Frigid temps, biting winds, ice and snow can cause quite a mess for those who experience the wonders of the winter season. Here are some life- and limb-saving tips from the American Red Cross:
Prepare a winter storm plan:

  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Ensure each household member has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, a hat and water-resistant boots.
  • Have your car winterized before hitting the road
  • Assemble disaster supply kits for your home and car.
To assemble a disaster supplies kit for your home, be sure to include:
  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • Bottled water (at least one gallon of water /person /day to last at least 3 days).
  • Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens and a hat.

Assemble a disaster supplies kit for your car:
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Booster cables
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods, such as granola bars, raisins and peanut butter
  • Compass and road maps
  • Shovel
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Flares
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Sack of sand or cat litter (for tire traction)
  • Tow rope
If traveling on the road during potentially dangerous winter weather, inform someone of your route, destination and expected arrival time. Remember to keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. If stalled:
  • Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
Protect your home:
  • Be careful with candles – Don’t use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
  • Inspect fireplaces and wood stoves – Use a sturdy screen when burning fires. Only burn wood – never burn paper or pine boughs.
  • Use generators correctly – If you have a portable generator and the power goes out, keep the generator outdoors. Never operate it inside, including the basement or garage. Don’t hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. It’s safest to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Prevent frozen pipes – In very cold weather, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
  • Check smoke alarms. Make sure alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary.
  • Be aware of overuse of electrical outlets. Don't overload your electrical outlets. Be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.
For more info, go to www.redcross.org/services/prepare/0,1082,0_239_,00.html.
-- Country Living Association