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Winter storms, as we know from recent experience, can be deadly if we aren’t prepared for them. There isn’t a state in the US that hasn’t been hit by some type of winter storm, most notable the snow and ice variety that we get every winter.

Northern or mid western United States as well as several other countries have winters that can take create some real problems if we aren’t aware of the weather and take steps to be ready for it.

The very cold weather can result in hypothermia if we aren’t careful and can take a toll not only of humans but of animals and our homes and cars as well. Winter time travel causes road conditions to be bad and accidents happen quite frequently.

Plan ahead for winter, with your home, your car and your children so that you are certain when it hits, that you have what you need, when you need it.

In the home: there are some things which should be checked and fixed as necessary

Check your insulation and add as necessary.
Weather strip your doors, and windows or cover them with plastic to assure they are tight against the wind.
Insulate water lines that are on outer walls, use heat tapes on mobile home water lines.
Make sure that you have an outdoor thermometer.

In Your Car

Check antifreeze levels
purchase winter mix windshield fluid
Check heater for function.
Make sure your tires and brakes are in good condition.
Check for radiator function and a good defroster.

Outdoor Pets

Make sure that shelter is adequate
keep a heated water bowl to assure it does not freeze
provide adequate bedding
If the temperature dips below 20, bring your pets inside

Indoor pets

Check pads and paws when they return inside to assure that no ice has cut the paw.

Pay close attention to weather reports during winter months so that you will know ahead of time when a winter storm or blizzard is due to hit.

Before it hits, make sure

Gas up your car, stock up on things you might need in an emergency such as a gallon or two of bottled water, extra food and safety supplies. make sure that you have at least one battery powered radio or have access to weather reports in case of a power outage.

Have extra batteries ready.

The National Weather Service will provide reports and updates on these conditions:

* Winter weather advisory (Expect winter weather conditions to cause inconvenience and hazards.)
* Frost/freeze warning (Expect below-freezing temperatures.)
* Winter storm watch (Be alert. A storm is likely.)
* Winter storm warning (Take action. The storm is in or entering the area.)
* Blizzard warning (Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.)

NOAA recommends that you have a full week worth of food and supplies on hand and more if you live away from other people.

These are the recommendations from their web site:

* Drinking water
* Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)
* Non-electric can opener
* Prescription drugs and other medicine
* First-aid kit
* Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
* Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways
* Flashlight and extra batteries
* Battery-powered lamps or lanterns
(To prevent the risk of fire, avoid using candles.)

Keep a water supply. Additionally it is recommended that you have at least one of the following sources of heating your home in case the power would go out and prevent the use of your furnace.

Fireplace with dry firewood or gas log fireplace.
Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters.

And when a winter storm in imminent they recommend that you make sure your car is ready for travel with these supplies;

* Cell phone; portable charger and extra batteries
* Shovel
* Windshield scraper
* Battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
* Flashlight (and extra batteries)
* Water
* Snack food
* Extra hats, coats, mittens
* Blankets
* Chains or rope
* Tire chains
* Canned compressed air with sealant (emergency tire repair)
* Road salt and sand
* Booster cables
* Emergency flares
* Bright colored flag; help signs
* First aid kit
* Tool kit
* Road maps
* Compass
* Waterproof matches and a can (to melt snow for water)
* Paper towels

Outdoor Safety

* Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, layered clothes. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent.
* Wear mittens rather than gloves—mittens are warmer.
* If you shovel snow, do stretching exercises to warm up. Take breaks often.
* Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.
* Avoid working too hard (strains your heart).
* Drink water and other fluids to avoid dehydration.
* Watch for signs of frostbite.

Additionally the NOAA web site recommends that if you are trapped in your automobile in a winter blizzard or storm that you:

* Stay in the car.
* Do not leave the car to look for help unless help is visible within 100 yards.
* Display a ‘call for help’ sign.
* To keep warm, turn on the car’s engine for about 10 minutes each hour.
* Run the heater only when the car is running. (Avoid running the car battery down.)
* Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow. (Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.)
* Open a window slightly for fresh air.
* Do light exercise to stay warm.
* If you’re alone, stay awake as much as possible.
* If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
* For warmth, huddle close together.
* Wrap your body and head with extra clothes, blankets, newspapers, maps, or removable car mats.


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