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Winter Weather Awareness Day

Tuesday, November 14th is Winter Weather Awareness Day. Michele Skalicky reports on what you can do to prepare for winter weather.

It won't be long before winter weather arrives in the Ozarks. Because of that, today has been designated "winter weather awareness day." John Gagan is senior forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Springfield.

"Winter Weather Awareness Day is something that the National Weather Service in coordination with emergency management agencies around Missouri use to inform on the dangers of the various types of winter weather that we can encounter from November into March."

Gagan says there are several things you can do now to prepare for winter. One is to make sure you've winter-proofed your home.

"Make sure your insulation is intact. Make sure you have good seals around your window especially with the hot topics about energy consumption and energy usage, those are good things to do to make sure that your house is energy efficient and you keep your house warmer in cold weather situations."

You should also make sure to keep a safety kit in your vehicle with things like extra gloves, a flashlight, extra batteries, a hazard light, energy bars and bottles of water. You should also keep extra blankets in your trunk along with salt and a small shovel and a scraper.

At home, you need to make sure your generators and kerosene heaters are working properly and stock up on extra batteries and 3 days worth of non-perishable food items and bottled water. When the ice storm hit in January, many people found they were short on batteries.

"That was one of the first things that ran out around the Springfield area for radios, for weather radios and other electronic equipment to make sure that you can stay in touch with the outside world to hear from your emergency management officals, Red Cross and such so that you can find out where shelters are open."

Other things you can do: have your fireplace cleaned and keep extra firewood on hand. And you need to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning such as having your furnace serviced and installing a carbon monoxide detector.

And, according to John Gagan, you should learn what certain weather terms mean.

"Some of the key terms that we use, weatherwise: winter storm watches, winter storm warnings. A winter storm watch means that we're watching conditions that could be favorable for accumulating winter weather, be it snow or ice. A winter storm warning means that a significant winter storm is imminent where we could see a combination of sleet, ice and snow accumulation or greater than six inches of snow accumulation."

Gagan says you should keep in mind wind chill, too. He says the stronger the wind, the more heat that's taken away from your body, which leads to hypothermia much faster.