Washington, DC - A blizzard watch is in effect for the greater National Capital Region that will impact headquarter operations and directly affect thousands of naval personnel and families.
According to the National Weather Service, the blizzard is expected to arrive in the mid-Atlantic region Jan. 22-23, and may deposit two feet or more of snow. Winds during the storm may reach up to 35 mph, which could result in snow drifts, power outages and a delay in the delivery of essential services.
"As with any other winter storm, Fleet Weather Center recommends that all personnel stay off the roads during the storm and during recovery efforts unless absolutely necessary," said Capt. Keith Williams, commanding officer, Fleet Weather Center Norfolk.
Personnel and families who may be affected by the blizzard are encouraged to develop a coordination plan. A successful coordination plan focuses on the management of food, fuel and finances in the event of an emergency. Additionally, a successful plan contains accessible muster information.
Each naval installation has emergency information cards which provide specific instructions on mustering, as well as emergency contact numbers and websites, including the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) website at https://navyfamily.navy.mil. NFAAS recommends that personnel alert their chain of command as to their status after a severe weather event.
Additionally, the American Red Cross advises that personnel planning for emergencies should store three days' worth of food and water.
Other tips for contingency planning include fueling up vehicles before a storm's arrival and having cash on hand for purchases in case electronic methods are unavailable.
"Be prepared for power outages by charging your cell phone before the storm and ensure you have enough food, water and other emergency supplies on hand for several days," said Williams. "It's important for all personnel to take this storm seriously and to take adequate precautions so that we can all return to duty safely."
The aftermath of winter storms can lead to injuries suffered during physical activity. Shoveling snow, for example, can be a dangerous activity due to the toll cold weather takes on the body.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommend that personnel should scoop small amounts of snow at a time, and where possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. The use of proper lifting technique should be used to avoid injury: keeping the back straight, lifting with the legs and not turning or twisting the body sharply.
"Dehydration is a leading cause of winter injuries," added Jeff Sanford, lead, Ready Navy. "It can lead to exhaustion and heart palpitations so drink water before you work outside and listen to your body as you dig out."