Blizzards are severe winter storms characterized by snow or blowing snow with winds of at least 35 miles per hour or more, visibility reduced to less than 1/4 miles and/or near white out conditions. All of the above conditions are expected to last for 3 hours or more to be officially classified as a blizzard. However, caution should be exercised if any of these conditions exist, regardless of their duration.This is the first Blizzard that mid-Missouri has experienced in recorded weather history. Since this is a rare event here are some tips to get you through the storm:MAINTAIN A GOOD SUPPLY OF HEATING FUEL AND FOOD: If you've been warned about a blizzard early enough, stock up on food and fuel. Include food that requires no preparation in case the power goes off.ENSURE ANIMALS ARE SHELTERED: Provide them with plenty of food and water before the storm reaches full force.DO NOT GO OUTSIDE: You may lose your way in the blinding snow. If you must go out, firmly tie one end of a long rope to your house to provide a way back, and tie the rest of the rope to the buildings you must visit. Keep a tight grip on it whenever you walk outside.WAIT OUT THE STORM INDOORS: Blizzards may last for days at a time.BE PREPARED IN CASE OF POWER FAILURE: Check battery powered equipment, flashlights, and portable radios before the storm hits.BE ALERT FOR FIRE HAZARDS: Monitor for overheated stoves, fireplaces, heaters or furnaces.USE CAUTION SHOVELLING: It is extremely hard work for those in less than excellent physical condition, and can even bring on a heart attack. KEEP AN ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF MEDICATION ON HAND: You may not be able to get to the store for several days. Once the storm passes weather conditions can still be extreme. Here are some general precautions to minimize the effects of winter weather and prepare in advance for severe weather conditions.DRESS TO SUIT THE WEATHER: Thin layers of loose fitting clothing will trap body heat while aiding air circulation. Outer clothing should be hooded, tightly woven, and repel water. Mittens are warmer than gloves. It is important to wear a hat because most body heat is lost through the head. If it is extremely cold, cover your mouth to protect your lungs from the cold air.Watch for signs of hypothermia: The very young and elderly are most at risk. Feeling cold over a prolonged period of time can cause a drop in body temperature below the normal 37C. Symptoms of hypothermia are shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control. If symptoms occur, get medical assistance immediately. Hypothermia can progress to a life threatening condition where shivering stops, the person loses consciousness and cardiac arrest can occur.CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE GOING OUTDOORS OR TRAVELING: Pay particular attention to wind chill, which can create dangerously cold outdoor conditions.WINTERIZE YOUR HOME AND VEHICLE BEFORE THE COLD WEATHER ARRIVES: Prepare an emergency pack for your home and vehicle and ensure your home heating system is in good working order. Insulate your home to avoid cold air leaks and minimize heating costs.PACE YOUR OUTDOOR ACTIVITY: Be alert for signs of frostbite. Avoid strenuous activity in extremely cold temperatures because the heart must work harder to pump blood through constricted vessels in arms and legs.