MOUNT VERNON — According to Brian Hess, Knox County Emergency Management Agency director, the mild weather in the county thus far this winter should not keep residents from preparing themselves for more harsh winter weather ahead.
“Just because our winter has been mild doesn’t mean real winter’s not coming,” he said. “People still need to prepare their homes and vehicles.”
Hess recommends everyone carry a survival kit in his or her vehicle, in case drivers become stranded by weather.
According to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, all drivers should carry the following in their vehicle during winter months:
•At least two blankets or a sleeping bag.
•Flashlight or battery-powered lantern and extra batteries.
•Extra clothing including boots, hats and mittens.
•A steel shovel and rope to use as a lifeline.
•Bottled water or juice and nonperishable high-energy food items such as granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, and peanut butter or cheese crackers.
•First aid kit and necessary medications.
•Sand or non-clomping cat litter for traction under your tires should you become stuck in ice or snow.
•A cell phone and car charger.
Being prepared to be stranded in the house during a winter storm is also important, said Hess. Keeping a few items on hand can help a family ride out a storm relatively comfortably.
The OCSWA recommends that all families have a disaster survival kit on hand for all seasons, not just the coldest winter months. It should contain a battery-operated radio, flashlight, matches, batteries, and an extra set of house and car keys.
Hess said families should also have an ample supply of drinking water on hand, as well as nonperishable food items.
Some family members may need others to prepare for them, Hess pointed out.
“Making sure your children are prepared is very important,” he said.
Having plenty of formula and diapers on hand is important should the roads become closed and a family need to remain inside for days at a time.
Children lose heat from their bodies very quickly, and should never be sent outside without the appropriate apparel to protect them from the weather.
“Children need to be dressed properly before being sent out, even for short periods of time,” said Hess.
Any family members who require medication need to be thought of ahead of time as well. Having an ample supply of medicine in the house is important, Hess said.
Secondary heating sources such as fireplaces can keep a family warm if the power should fail, but fireplaces need to be checked once a year by a professional in order to keep them ready for safe use.
Many fires occur when the power is out due to the use of candles, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The use of battery-operated lanterns for light during a power outage does not pose the same danger.
Preparing for winter should include getting to know your neighbors, according to Hess. When the power is out, and homes are without light and heat, checking in with elderly neighbors is important.