Parts of our region could experience some wicked winter weather. We have tips to help you weather the storm.
If you have to venture outside, dress in several lightweight layers of clothing and a hat that covers the ears. Sporting mittens will provide more warmth to the hands than gloves and waterproof, insulated boots will help keep your feet warm and dry and maintain your footing in ice and snow.
Winterize Your Preparedness Kit
Check the supplies in your preparedness kit and replace any missing or expired items. Include extra blankets and extra warm clothing for each family member.
Heat Your Home Safely
Avoid using a stove or oven to heat your home. If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface and turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep children and pets away from space heaters and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
Prep Your Ride
Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery‑operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need. Fill the gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel lines from freezing. Clean the lights and windows to help you see and check out our 10 Driving Tips to Keep you Safe this Winter.
Keep Pipes Warm
When the weather is very cold outside, prevent frozen pipes by opening cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around the pipes. Let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
Protect Your Pets
Don’t forget about family pets. Bring the furry members of your family indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warms and make sure they have access to unfrozen water.
Be Ready for Power Outages
Charge cell phones and keep flashlights handy in the event of a power outage. If you use a generator, do so correctly. Never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment needed directly to the outlets on the generator.
For more winter weather safety tips, visit redcross.org.
Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday at 2:00 a.m. so turn the clocks ahead one hour. The American Red Cross reminds everyone it’s also a good time to TEST the batteries in their smoke alarms as they TURN their clocks ahead an hour.
It’s also a good time for everyone to take these steps to make sure their household is prepared for emergencies.
- Install smoke alarms. If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, they should install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
- Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
- Get a kit. Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or carry in case ordered to evacuate.
- Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs.
- Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur.
People can visit redcross.org to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire and other emergencies.
Thank you to all who have reached out regarding how to help those affected by the recent fire in Ocean Grove. Many have asked how they can donate goods to support the families impacted. The American Red Cross does not accept or solicit small quantities of individual donations of items for emergency relief purposes. Items such as collections of food, used clothing, and shoes often must be cleaned, sorted, and repackaged which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel that are needed for other aspects of our relief operation.
At this time, we are not aware of any organization collecting items for families impacted by the Ocean Grove fire.
We appreciate the good intentions of people who want to donate items, but financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most. Financial donations allow us to be flexible in the help we deliver and ensure that we can provide what disaster victims need most. If you are interested in making a financial donation to the Red Cross disaster relief please visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
Joan Klimpl of Somerset was recognized at the event for the most deployments of the year from the region. Her unflappable energy and enthusiasm serves her well as a Shelter Supervisor on her deployments.
She faces 12 hour days with a smile, always wanting to help others in need. On her recent deployment to Gatlinburg, Tennessee she worked to help find homes for 150 people and pets who were displaced from wildfires.
“By the end, we closed the shelter and everyone had a place to go,” she said. It’s happy endings like that which keep her signing up for deployments.
Klimpl started her journey of deployments when she retired from teaching.
“I never had the next step ready but all of sudden it was there,” she said. Now she waits for the call of her next deployment, always bringing flexibility and a smile with her. When she is called for deployments she said, “I check the weather channel, pack for two weeks and go.”
“When you have time, you give back,” she said simply of her efforts.
Carol Lee Tieman
Within a five month span last year, Carol Lee Tieman of Oceanport traveled across the United States to help others in need. Her deployments took her from California to Louisiana to North Carolina, with little time in between. Tieman’s steadiness and adaptability allows her to fill many roles in her deployments from Shelter Supervisor, to running the shelter kitchens, to crunching numbers on the computer. Tieman brings with her a unique skill set she gathered in her previous work as the owner of a bed and breakfast. She credits her “good common sense” with allowing her to help fill the needs of the communities affected by disaster.
After returning home from a trip with her church and witnessing firsthand the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, Tieman became involved with the Red Cross. When she retired and sold her business, she became more involved in her work supporting families displaced by local home fires and deploying where the need is.
She loves helping and working with people of all ages. She said in many deployments she works with a range from infants to people in hospital beds.
“There is a need. If I can fill it, I serve,” she said.
After a family member suffered a house fire, Clare Rybczynski of Branchburg was so impressed with the Red Cross’ aid and response she vowed to become a volunteer. When her son left for college she seized her moment, took a class and has never looked back. With the support of her husband, she now happily volunteers full-time and deploys a few times a year.
“I love being able to give back. It’s a fulfillment in life you don’t get in any other way,” she said.
Although she has done casework and been a shelter supervisor on deployment, her favorite and most frequent job is emergency response vehicle driver. She loves being out on the road and often being the first eyes on the scene. And her favorite part is “the hugs and smiles as payment.”
She brings her past work experiences to the job of driver and said it’s been amazing to see her life experiences all coming together in her work with the Red Cross.
“Helping people in disasters is where my heart is,” she said.
Rybczynski also loves the camaraderie and friendships she has developed through her volunteer work with the Red Cross. She said she often runs into people from deployments in the airport and loves to reconnect with those she has deployed with previously.
Old man winter could hit our state with some wicked winter weather. While we encourage you to stay off the roads if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm or what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:
- Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
- Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
- Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
- Don’t pass snow plows.
- Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
- If you get stuck, don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
- If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.