Last December's back-to-back blizzards left people in Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas stranded in their homes, unable to feed their cattle or reach emergency services.

"This blizzard really emphasized how critical personal preparedness is," says Hans Kellam, director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management (CDEM). "We can't stress enough the importance of listening to severe weather warnings, staying home when roads can't be safely traveled and preparing with emergency supplies ahead of time."

Here's a list to consider as you prepare for the cold weather ahead:

Keep enough basic supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. A "72-Hour Family Emergency Kit" publication may be found on the CDEM Web site at: dola.colorado.gov/oem/Publications/publications.htm.

Items to consider when preparing an emergency kit include:

  • batteries,
  • medications,
  • flashlight,
  • a battery-operated radio for updates on emergency conditions,
  • water,
  • non-perishable foods and
  • a manual can opener.
The publication also details what you might need in your car's emergency kit if a severe winter storm were to strike unexpectedly while traveling.

The National Weather Service can alert you of potential winter storms up to seven days in advance, and issues watches up to three days in advance of a storm, and warnings when there is a high confidence of a storm in the next 12-36 hours. When you hear the watches and warnings, you should check your family's 72-hour emergency kits, ensure your vehicle is prepared for winter driving conditions, and consider adjusting travel plans.

Learn what you need to do to keep safe this winter. Tips on protecting your home and your family can be found on the CDEM Web site under "Winter Weather Preparedness" -- dola.colorado.gov/oem/PublicInformation/severe_winter/winter_preparedness.htm.

For tips on how to protect your home from severe winter weather, link to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association Web site at www.rmiia.org.
-- Colorado Division of Emergency Management release