Indiana will be facing unprecedented cold temperatures in the coming days, which means there is a considerably higher risk for disaster in the next 72 hours than we typically face. The Red Cross is preparing to mobilize as needed, working closely with community partners and local officials.

Throughout Indiana, local governments are preparing to stand up warming centers, which are intended to provide a temporary place for those who are housing insecure to get out of the harsh conditions. The Red Cross is supporting those efforts by loaning resources and supplies, and has already loaned over 200 cots to government partners. The Red Cross has also pre-positioned shelter trailers and supplies at key locations throughout Indiana, such as near interstates, to be ready for weather-related emergencies. Additionally, the intense cold creates a risk of widespread power outages; the Red Cross has contacted shelter partners to confirm availability and ensure teams are ready to act if a shelter is needed.

“A winter storm is headed to this region and we have safety tips everyone can follow to stay safe,” said Duchess Adjei, Regional Communication Director at the American Red Cross, Indiana Region. “Whether trying to keep your home warm or having to be outside in the cold, you can follow these steps to get through the storm.”

HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY

It’s that time of year when many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in this country. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):

  • All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets - never into an extension cord.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don't pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.