Preparing and safely getting through a strong winter storm
RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakota is in for its potentially largest snow of the season and preparedness is key. Here are some tips to preparing and getting through the storm safely.
State officials urge travelers to get to their destination by Tuesday night.
Keep your car stocked with the basics like blankets, warm clothes, water, snacks, and emergency supplies.
Always check safetravelUSA.com/sd or call 511 before you leave for your trip. Call a friend or family member to let them know you are leaving so they know your route and when to expect you.
Aim to travel during the day and with your headlights on so that your vehicle is visible to others in low visibility scenarios.
Stay on main, highly traveled roads, but don’t be tempted by cruise control.
Getting stuck is always a possibility so be prepared for if it occurs.
“Stay put, don’t leave your car,” says Lt. Jim Bussell, public information officer with the Rapid City Fire Department. “That’s where a lot of fatalities happen in weather like this. People become stuck and try to walk to the last place they saw or look for help. It’s really easy to get disoriented. If you have the reduced visibility that we’re anticipating in the blowing and drifting, there’s lots of room for tragedy.”
The public can help keep themselves safe, as well as emergency responders, by staying home.
Make sure your home is stocked with food and drinks for a few days. People who need medicine or medical equipment, should stock up and plan to not be able to get more for a few more days.
“It’s a great idea to check on your elderly neighbors especially if you know they have mobility challenges or medical concerns,” says Bussell. “Take care of ’em, be a good neighbor.”
Keeping your home warm is important too. Keep batteries available for flashlights in case of power outages. If using candles, the RCFD advises safety.
“Make sure that you’re being safe however you decide to stay warm,” says Bussell. “If you’re going to stay home and warm your home with candles, make sure that you’re being very careful because this weather will make firefighting very difficult. If the public wants to be helpful, just be careful so that we don’t have to respond.”
No matter where you are, pay attention to social media, the latest news, and your local emergency officials.
“It’s the only way that we’re going to get through a major storm safely, is if we take care of each other,” says Bussell.