Looking forward to the snow, but make preparations

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

If Saturday night's snow didn't get you in a Christmas mood, it looks like Mother Nature is preparing to get the message across in a big way tonight with a half-foot of snow and 50 mph winds possible.

Yes, we need the moisture, but it takes a lot of snow to equal a few inches of rain.

Thankfully, there's still a week until Christmas, and most of us don't absolutely have to travel on Wednesday, but it's still a good idea to make sure we're prepared for the storm.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says you should have the following on hand:

* Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.

* Sand to improve traction.

* Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

* Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

* Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

* Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

* Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service. Be alert to changing weather conditions.

* Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

* Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

And, if the storm takes out the power lines, be careful to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

* Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

* The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

* Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.

* If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.

* Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

If the weather forecasters are right, Wednesday will be a good night to sit back and enjoy some Christmas music and a cup of hot chocolate or a board game with family and friends.

If you are planning to travel, think about postponing your trip or changing your schedule to arrive somewhere safe and warm as soon as possible.

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