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Winter storms are among nature’s most impressive weather spectacles. Their combination of heavy snow, freezing rain, and high winds can totally disrupt modern civilization: closing down airports and roads, creating power outages, and downing telephone lines.

A winter storm can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by low temperatures and heavy or blowing snow, which can severely reduce visibility.

Some winter storms may be large enough to affect several states, while others may affect only a single community.

Winter Storm Risk
Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm.
Risks to human life caused by winter storms.
Automobile or other transportation accidents: This is the leading cause of death during winter storms.

Exhaustion and heart attacks: Caused by overexertion, these are the two most likely causes of winter storm-related deaths.

Hypothermia and frostbite: Elderly people account for the largest percentage of hypothermia victims. Many older Americans literally freeze to death in their own homes after being exposed to dangerously cold indoor temperatures.

House fires: These occur more frequently in the winter because of the lack of proper safety precautions when using alternate heating sources (unattended fires, disposal of ashes too soon, improperly placed space heaters, etc.). Fire during winter storms presents a great danger because water supplies may freeze, and it may be difficult for firefighting equipment to get to the fire.

Asphyxiation: In an effort to get warm, people asphyxiate because of improper use of fuels such as charcoal briquettes, which produce carbon monoxide.

Check the forecast when venturing outside. Major winter storms are often followed by even colder temperatures. Keep children indoors during the most severe part of the storm. If allowed to play outdoors during the storm, be sure to check on them frequently.

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