Planning for winter weather

BEDFORD – Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer is making winter preparedness plans for Lawrence county and area residents should follow suit.

“Motorists should be making sure their vehicles are ready for the winter weather and have their cars packed with needed equipment and residents should have ice melt and other items they may need on hand,” she added.

Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit in the trunk or vehicle. Kits should be checked every six months, and expired items should be replaced regularly.

Vehicle emergency supply kits should include:

  • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
  • Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets
  • Windshield scraper
  • Shovel
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water and snack food
  • First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife
  • Tow chains or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair, A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack
  • Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice
  • Booster cables with fully charged battery or jumper cables
  • Hazard or other reflectors
  • Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
  • Road maps
  • Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
  • Jumper cables
  • Tool kit and/or a multipurpose utility tool
  • Reflective triangles and brightly colored cloth to make your vehicle more visible
  • Compass
  • Reflective vest in case you need to walk to get help
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Duct tape

Be prepared for power outages

Power outages happen in just about every region of the United States. Some outages last briefly, others last a few hours, but sometimes, they can last several days. You might get a warning of a possible power outage, like if the forecast calls for strong winds, torrential rains, snow, or ice. But you might have no warning at all.

  • basic first-aid kit
  • needed medications
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • battery-operated fans
  • car charger for charging cell phones
  • cash
  • flashlights (one for each family member)
  • garbage bags for sanitation
  • hand-crank or battery-powered radio and an NOAA Weather Radio
  • hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and dry shampoo
  • tool kit
  • whistle (to signal for help)

When assembling your kit, include an ample supply of backup batteries, in a range of sizes, for your flashlights, radios, clocks, camping lantern, and any other key tools or appliances that run on battery backup. Make sure you store any batteries in a dry place at normal room temperature without the contacts touching.

Stock your shelves with nonperishable foods

Store shelves might be emptied as soon as the weather forecast is announced. Instead of fighting the crowds, keep your pantry stocked with shelf-stable foods that don’t require cooking. Good options include peanut butter (or any nut butter); nuts, seeds, and peanuts; powdered and evaporated milk; packaged tuna; canned and dried meat; crackers, cereal, and granola bars; canned and dried fruit; canned fruit or vegetable juice; canned vegetables; beef or chicken bouillon; instant coffee, tea, and powdered drink mixes; and comfort foods such as cookies and chocolate. Include pet food for four-legged, feathered, and scaled friends. And don’t forget to put a manual can opener and scissors where you can find them.

You might be tempted to buy in bulk, which is a great way to save money. But pay attention to expiration dates since discount stores sometimes sell food that is about to expire. You’re buying food that may need to be stored for days, weeks, and possibly months.

Want to be able to cook with a propane stove or a gas or charcoal grill? Stow an extra container of propane or additional bags of charcoal in the garage. And if your home includes a fireplace or wood-burning stove, keep the woodpile stocked when temperatures dip.

Fuel up vehicles and charge those cell phones

Because gas stations power their pumps with electricity, it’s important to fill your car’s gas tank before the storm hits. No power means no fuel. You may want to get gas for your backup generator at the same time. (Portable generators emit carbon monoxide, so never use one inside your home or garage.) Fully charge all your electronic devices, as well as any plug-in hybrid cars, to maximize the amount of time you’ll be able to use them.