What to have in your home and vehicle to prepare for cold weather

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Even before the first snowflakes fall, people should make sure their homes and vehicles are ready.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says people should make sure their home, office and vehicle is stocked with the supplies they need in case of a winter emergency. People with farm animals or pets should also make sure they have what they need for the animals during a winter storm.

Home and Work

The NWS says people’s top concerns at home and work during a winter storm are loss of heat, power and telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions last longer than a day. To prepare their home and workplace, the NWS says people should have:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
  • Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
  • Extra prescription medicine
  • Baby items such as diapers and formula
  • First-aid supplies
  • Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm
  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater properly ventilated to prevent a fire
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms monthly to ensure they work properly
  • Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets
  • Review generator safety: Never run a generator in an enclosed space
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working correctly and that the outside vent is clear of leaves and debris. During or after the storm, make sure it is cleared of snow.
  • Home fires are common each winter when trying to stay warm. Review ways to keep your home and loved ones safe.

In the car

The NWS says before leaving the house during the winter, people should make sure all fluid levels are full and make sure the lights, heater and windshield wipers are in proper condition.

They should also make sure the gas tank is near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Before the winter season begins, people should winterize their vehicles and prepare a winter storm survival kit including:

  • Mobile phone, charger, batteries
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Large empty can to use as an emergency toilet, tissues, toilet paper and paper towels
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Battery booster cables
  • Water container
  • Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat.
  • Compass and road maps, don’t depend on mobile devices with limited battery life

For farm animal and pet owners

People caring for animals should also make sure the animals are prepared for the cold. The NWS says people should:

  • Move animals to sheltered areas or bring pets inside. Shelterbelts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
  • Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
  • Have water available. Most animals die from dehydration in winter storms.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of food and water and a warm shelter.

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