By Ioana Lutai
(Alexandria, VA) Heavy snow and ice, power outages, frozen or bursting water pipes, and treacherous driving conditions can be a hazard. Does your family have everything it needs for a long, cold winter? Have you stocked up on the essential supplies and prepared a go-kit in case you need to evacuate? If not, NOW is the perfect time to prepare provisions, BEFORE an emergency happens.
Start by gathering items you might need to stay safe in your home. Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, warm clothing, blankets, a radio, bottled water, portable phone charger, and non-perishable food such as peanut butter, canned tuna, and crackers.
Check your car’s tires and replace them if the tread is low. Inspect your wipers, lights and fluid level. Make sure your brakes and transmission are working properly. Keep a lock de-icer in your house, not your car, in case your car door and trunk locks freeze. If you have an accident or your vehicle breaks down, roadside assistance may take several hours to arrive. Keep a portable emergency kit stocked with water, food, extra clothing, flashlight, first aid kit, blanket, shovel, salt or cat litter, booster cables, and a portable cell phone charger in your car.
If you have pets, remember: if it is too cold for you, then it is too cold for your furry friends. In the winter, outdoor pets need a shelter that protects them from wind, rain and snow. Make sure they have old rugs or towels for warmth. They also need food and fresh, not frozen, water. If you take your pets out for a walk, make sure they have protective clothing such as booties to keep salt and chemical off their delicate paws.
Need a holiday gift idea for friends, family, and coworkers? Consider giving an emergency kit— it’s a gift that truly says that you care about their safety! We all think about the time we will spend and the fun we will have with our families during the holiday season. Make sure YOUR family is prepared for winter.
Ioana Lutai is the Emergency Preparedness Manager for Volunteer Alexandria.