Prepare your home, workplace and vehicle for winter storms

As winter approaches, you can take simple steps to prepare for winter storms that may result in power outages at your home and workplace, or that make travel impossible for several days.

As the last of fall leaves are raked up, lawn furniture moved inside and storm windows installed, many people may feel they are now prepared for the winter months ahead.  There are, however, several additional steps you should take to insure your safety and comfort before the first winter storm strikes: the Federal Emergency Medical Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign recommends you prepare emergency kits for home, work, and vehicles.

Your home disaster supply kit should contain a three-day supply of non-perishable food, enough water for each person to have one gallon a day for drinking and washing for three days, a first aid kit, flashlight, battery-operated radio and extra batteries. They have prepared a check-list of basic items that every emergency supply kit should include. The best types of food for your kit include ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener. Protein bars, dry cereal or granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, low-sodium crackers, canned juices, non-perishable pasteurized milk and other high energy foods are also suggested.

When choosing foods for your supply kit, select items you know family members will readily eat, avoid foods that will make you thirsty, and keep in mind any family members with special dietary needs. When assembling food and water supplies for your kit, mark the date of storage on the container and change stored food and water every six months.

FEMA offers additional recommendations regarding food safety and sanitation,cooking and how to best store your supply of water. Always remember that charcoal grills and camp stoves are only safe when used outdoors. If your power is out and you wish to heat food, consider using alternative heating sources such as a fondue pot, chafing dish, candle warmer or fire place. Those who have a generator that can be used during an emergency should always keep a supply of safely-stored fuel on hand.

In addition, FEMA recommends individuals review their check- list and include other items that meet the unique needs of their family. This may include infant formula and diapers, pet food and extra water for pets, and prescription medications. You may wish to include a supply if cash as ATMs may be inoperable making debit and credit cards of little value during a disaster.

Depending on when a storm strikes, you may find yourself at work and should be prepared with a workplace disaster kit that allows you to shelter in place for at least 24 hours. Again, the kit should include food, water and other necessities like medications. Comfortable walking shoes are also recommended for your workplace disaster kit in case an evacuation requires you walking long distances.

In the event that you are stranded in your vehicle during a winter storm, emergency supplies in your car should include jumper cables, cat litter or sand for better tire traction, shovel, ice scraper, blanket, flares or a reflective triangle in addition to the basic items mentioned above.

Whether you live alone or reside with family members, make sure you have a family emergency plan that details how you will contact one another should you not be together in the same place when a winter storm strikes. Download and complete FEMA’s family emergency plan form, discuss it thoroughly with family members and place a copy in your emergency supply kits at home, at work and in your vehicle.

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