You are here

Safety Tips for Weathering a Winter Storm

From the St. Charles Fire Department


St. Charles just experienced its first significant snowfall of the season. According to the National Weather Service, 8.1 inches of heavy, wet snow was dumped on St. Charles. Heavy snow and cold weather can pose serious health risks, especially with prolonged exposure. Children and the elderly are at the highest risk during these winter storms.

Please review the following winter storm safety tips from the St. Charles Fire Department to help you weather this storm and be prepared for the next one:

  1. Prepare before the winter storm hits. To ready your home, be sure that you have the following items:  A first aid kit, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, battery operated radio, flashlight, warm clothing, blankets, prescriptions are filled, and for those on prescribed home oxygen, at least one spare oxygen tank (in the event of a power outage).
  2. If the power does go out, using flashlights or battery operated portable lights are preferred. Unattended candles are a fire hazard. Place portable generators away from the garage or entrances to the home to avoid carbon monoxide from entering the house.
  3. Be sure your Carbon Monoxide and smoke detector(s) are functioning.
  4. Frozen pipes should be thawed by a plumber or other professional.
  5. Do not use the oven for home heating if your furnace is not functioning.
  6. If you must go outside, dress in layers, wear mittens and a hat.
  7. Keep dry. Change out of wet clothes to prevent loss of body heat.
  8. Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
  9. Drink plenty of water, including warm broth and juices.
  10. Avoid overexertion. Shoveling snow for some (sedentary people, people with existing heart conditions like heart failure, high blood pressure or cholesterol) may put you at an increased risk for a heart attack. The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart. Remember the signs of a heart attack:
    • Chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.  Chest discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain
    • Discomfort in one or both arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
    • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
    • Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
  11. If you experience any of the above symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

“Winter storms can be very busy times for public safety services and response times may be longer due to severe weather and the need to take additional precautions when responding,” said Fire Chief Joseph Schelstreet. “It’s important to note that the St. Charles Fire Department does not maintain portable oxygen cylinders for home use. If someone has a medical condition that requires oxygen or other specialized equipment or supplies, please make advanced preparations to get you through periods of inclement weather. We are always willing to assist anyone with a question concerning severe weather preparedness.  Please call us at 630.377-4457 and we will help out in any way that we can.”

created Nov 26, 2018 updated Feb 04, 2019