If I were to become one of the X-Men, Storm would definitely be my choice. Who else has the power to control all weather conditions in the whole universe? Okay, it might also be because of her gorgeous body, flawless skin, elegant tresses and her unrivaled ability to pick locks. But hey, even without those traits, she’s one of the most powerful mutants in their weird bunch. When I was a little girl, she was the only X-men mutant who never ceased to scare me whenever her white eyes and raging storms flashed on the TV screen.

Well, I guess storms are created exactly that way—fierce and frightening. While we have yet to encounter mutants beating each other up on streets in the real world, we are often at the mercy of weather conditions that make jobs more challenging, if not toxic.

These days, with most states still enjoying a visit from winter, employees are at a higher risk to get injuries and illnesses. Add to this the possibility of a winter storm, and accidents can rise at an alarming rate. That is, unless employers and workers learn to prepare for this fatal phenomenon.

Defining Storm

Before we go into the nitty-gritty of winter storm preparations, let’s get one question answered first: What are the different types of winter storms?

1. Blizzards

The basis of some Marvel Comics supervillains, as well as one of Dairy Queen’s desserts, this snow storm consists of winds with a velocity of 35 mph or more. Such harsh winds are accompanied by snow and blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than ¼ mile for at least 3 hours. If you find it hard to paint a picture of this phenomenon in your mind, just imagine the mutant Storm showing her enemies the peak of her wrath.

2. Snow Showers

When the weather’s this cold, everyone’s excused from taking a shower. Now when we’re talking about snow showers, you better get your bonnets, boots and mittens ready. While you’re at it, grab that shovel as you can expect some snow accumulation with the falling of snow at varying intensities for brief periods. Such accumulation does not always happen during snow showers, but it sure pays to be ready.

3. Snow Squalls

Now with this winter storm, you might need some help shoveling up snow outdoors. While its name calls to mind the eardrum-bursting, high-blood-inducing screams of babies, it actually refers to brief, intense snow showers that come with strong, gusty winds. Hmm…this is probably the mutant Storm in her rookie months.

4. Blowing Snow

Blowing snow is just that, snow blowing with all its might. This alone makes the danger of walking and driving on roads tenfold not only with surfaces being slippery, but also with visibility greatly reduced. Blowing snow is either snow that falls to the ground or one that is on the ground and is picked up by wind.

5. Snow Flurries

No need to sound the workplace alarm with this one. Snow flurries are basically just light snow falling for short periods of time. No shovel alert either with this winter storm as it produces little or snow accumulation.

6. Ice Storms

Just when we thought clouds couldn’t cry solid tears, here comes ice falling from the heavens. With ice storms, you can almost imagine the outdoors as this chunk of meat placed in the freezer with storms usually accompanied by sleet or freezing rain.

Winter Storm Preparations

Without further ado, I now serve you with a list of things to follow in preparation for a snow storm or winter storm.

  • Store drinking water, one-week supply of food (particularly canned/no cook) and medicine, first aid kit, flashlight, non-electric can opener, portable battery-operated radio, extra batteries, fire extinguisher, and extra blankets and sleeping bags. Make sure you can get these supplies easily even in the dark.
  • Inspect all work areas and make sure that they have sufficient heating fuel, as well as emergency heating equipment. Expect regular fuel sources to be cut off during a winter storm.

The following can serve as emergency heating equipment for your work site:

1. portable space heaters or kerosene heaters (Check your local fire department if kerosene heaters are allowed in your community.)

2. fireplace with more than enough supply of wood

3. small coal, wood or camp stove with ample fuel

  • Prepare some rock salt so that you can readily melt ice on walkways. While you’re at it, have some kitty litter ready as it can serve as temporary traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Have storm windows installed. If this is not feasible, cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Caulk and weather-strip all windows and doors.
  • Make sure all smoke detectors are in perfect condition.

Keep pipes from freezing by:

. . . wrapping pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers.

. . . covering the newspapers with plastic to keep moisture out.

. . .allowing faucets to drip a little to prevent freezing.

. . .shutting water valves off properly.

  • All employees must fully understand the emergency action plan (EAP) specifically designed for a snow storm or winter storm. This should come in handy in case illnesses or injuries occur during the storm. Each employee must have at least a copy of the EAP, apart from copies posted in conspicuous areas at the workplace.

Snow Storm VS. Mortals

You need not be a mutant to be shielded from the fatal blows of winter storms. By arming yourself with the guidelines above, and additional ones you’ve concocted on your own for the specific conditions of your workplace, you can get through winter without getting a taste of tragedies borne out of Mother Nature’s chilling rage.

Related Links:

Safety in Cold Weather

Safety Measures for Changing Weather

5 Distractions that Cause Workplace Hazards

Top 10 OSHA Fines for Small Companies

Cold Stress Prevention:  7 Safety Tips to Avoid Hypothermia and Frostbite

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