St. Peter third-graders get winter survival tips

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Who’s the best person to spread the word to parents about winter weather survival?

A third-grader.

That’s why Nicollet County Emergency Management Assistant Director Windy Block and St. Peter Police Community Service Officer Janet Thompson presented a program on the subject to 160 North Intermediate School third-graders on Thursday in the gym.

“If I tell your third-grader that your mom and dad should change their smoke detector, they will not leave you alone. They have power when they have knowledge,” said Block, also a retired fire chief.

The program covered preparing for a storm, dressing warmly, what to do if your car is stuck in the snow, ice safety on lakes and rivers, snow plow safety and having a winter survival kit in your car.

Each student received a winter survival kit, donated by Alliance Pipeline. It included a space blanket, a flash light, paper, a pencil, a piece of bright cloth, a candle, candy for energy, a whistle, hand warmers and a first-aid kit.

All of the objects have a use, most of them obvious.

Block said if you’re in trouble, the whistle is louder than yelling and makes a lot of noise in the wind.

The space blanket is commonly used for runners after marathons to keep warm. The aluminum foil looking blanket starts out the size of a matchbook and folds out big enough to wrap around a body.

The candle can be used to heat up a metal soup can and melt snow for drinking water while the flag is to put on an antenna or top of car so searcher can see a car stuck in snow.

The flashlight is especially useful so you can see your way home in winter. “It’s a long, dark winter,” Block said. “It’s dark when go to school and dark when go home.”

When walking in the snow, Thompson told students to wear bright colors and have a flashlight, so they can be seen in the snow and wear good boots that don’t slip on the ice.

The kit also included an ice safety card that says that 4 inches of ice is needed to safely walk on ice. For a car or medium pickup, it takes 12 to 15 inches.

“The only time you don’t wear a seat belt is when driving on the ice,” Block said. “The motor is heaviest end of the car, so when it submerges it tips upside down and you get disoriented and need to get out quick. Also keep the windows open so you can open the door and get out.”

Block and Thompson also recommended keeping extra clothes, such as an old pair of snow pants, gloves and boots in a bag in the car.

“If you’re stuck in the snow, stay in car where it’s warm and run the car every once in a while to keep car a little warmer,” Thompson said. “Don’t got out in the cold. If stuck inside car, move around to keep warm. Keep light on in car as much as possible to keep warm but don’t wear out the battery.”

Block added, “If you get a ride, leave a note on the steering wheel so people will know where you are … So they don’t have to go out looking for you.”

They also said booster cables are good to jump a dead battery, and a snow shovel and kitty litter is helpful if your car gets stuck. Kitty litter provides extra traction to tires if it’s slippery.

Block asked the students if it’s better to have water or pop in the winter. Water is better because it doesn’t explode when frozen like pop and is drinkable when melted.

The kids also watched a video on snow plow safety and got to see a St. Peter city snow plow.

Basically, Block and the video stressed staying away from snow plows and not building a snow forts near the road because of the danger of being hit by passing vehicles. They suggested not building a snow fort with a roof on it, because it may cave in, and you can’t hear.

He also cautioned the students about staying away from snow plows. Because of their weight they take longer to stop.

“This one we’ve got today (equivalent to) is eight or nine elephants,” said Block, who used to drive a plow for the city. “Loaded with sand, it’s close to 50,000 pounds.”

He also recommended not throwing snowballs at snowplows and cars because they can distract drivers.

Thompson talked about preparing for winter storms.

If there is winter storm watch, a storm maybe coming and you need to be prepared, Thompson said. She suggested checking the forecast for nearby counties, such as Le Sueur and Blue Earth, for approaching storms. For a winter storm warning, a storm is definitely coming.

If there is a storm, Thompson said it is best to stay inside with a flashlight, battery-operated radio, bottled water and extra food.

Thompson said, “Sometimes when there is a storm, you might not have lights or electricity to listen to the radio or TV and you might not having running water either, so you want to have some bottled water and extra food.”

To protect yourself from cold, Thompson said every part of your skin needs to be covered.

“If don’t have head covered, you lose heat,” she said. “Wear face mask and mittens rather than gloves. Mittens keep your fingers together and keep hands warmer.”

She also said it’s important to cover your mouth with a scarf or mask to protect from breathing cold air into your lungs. “Even when you cover up your face, make sure that you can still see to watch for cars and danger around you.”

She also recommended drinking extra water in cold, not staying out long in severe cold and coming in and taking breaks from the cold.

Talking about frostbite or hypothermia, Thompson said, “There may be something wrong if you’re shivering or have a tingling feeling. When get frostbite, don’t run hot water but warm water to warm body up.”

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