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Extreme cold temperatures call for additional safety steps
January 5, 2018

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The extreme cold temperatures hitting the area call for a level of preparedness not always necessary in warmer weather. The potential for weather-related problems such as freezing pipes and power outages rises in the winter months, and the best time to plan is before an emergency arises.

According to the Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, one of the first steps to take is creating an emergency preparedness kit.

"During a winter storm, you need to be prepared for the possibility of not having power, water or heat for several days," said Brandon Vallee, JCHSEM's public information officer.

Each family's kit should include the following:

Ensure that there's at least one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days. (Store a longer-than-three-day supply of water, if possible.) An average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of fluid daily. Individual needs vary depending on age, gender, health, level of activity, food choices and climate. Stored water can also be used for food preparation.

Store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food for household members, including pets. Remember to consider special dietary needs. Make sure to have a nonelectric can opener on hand.

Also have on hand flashlights with extra batteries, a charged radio and phone charger. These items should be battery operated; in the case of the phone charger, make sure a car charger adapter is available.

Don't forget to have a first aid kit and all necessary prescription and nonprescription medicines available in case inclement weather inhibits travel. Also have plenty of sanitation items including hand sanitizer, towelettes, paper products, diapers if necessary and plastic bags, in case water is limited.

Keep extra blankets and sleeping bags handy along with clothing to layer in case power is lost and heat isn't available. Store a supply of dry wood if there's a working fireplace or wood stove. Remember that when using devices such as propane or kerosene heaters, it's important to properly vent the area.

Stock up on rock salt to melt ice on sidewalks and keep sand or kitty litter in the car to aid in improving traction. Also include a shovel for snow removal.

"Please note that this is a basic list of supplies that should be in your emergency preparedness kit," Vallee said. "Your kit should reflect your family's specific needs" such as access and functional needs, pets or infants.

For more suggestions on what to include in your emergency preparedness kit, please check out www.ready.gov/kit

In addition to having physical items as part of preparing for any emergency, the second step to being prepared is having a plan. Knowing where to go and who to contact, and having important information recorded in a hard copy and digital format (such as flash drive) will allow residents to make it through a disaster.

JCHSEM has a guide to assist in creating a Family Disaster Plan. It's free and available on the Jefferson County website: www.jeffersoncountywv.org/home/showdocument?id=14000.

The final step to being prepared is being informed. Signing up to receive Nixle Alerts is a valuable resource during a disaster.

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