The American Red Cross and Unitil, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, encourage residents to begin preparing for possible winter weather-related emergencies. Heavy snow, ice, freezing rain and high winds often create unsafe conditions. Early preparation can help residents stay safe while they manage the impact of a winter storm.
"Unitil shares in the Red Cross's commitment to helping individuals and families prepare for weather-related emergencies, and recent years have shown that severe winter weather can happen as early as late October," Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O'Meara said. "By taking a few simple steps now, you can be better prepared for the possible challenges of a winter storm."
The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for winter storms by:
Assembling Emergency Preparedness Kits: Pack winter-specific supply kits for both home and your vehicle that include a flashlight, first aid supplies, warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand in case your car is stuck and to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, your home kit should have essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in the event of a power outage.
Heeding Storm Warnings: A winter storm WATCH means winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions via NOAA weather radio or local radio or television stations. A winter storm WARNING means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Individuals in a warning area should take precautions immediately.
Preparing Your Home and Car: Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which helps prevent the fuel line from freezing. Make sure your home is properly insulated by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year. Running water, even at a trickle, helps to prevent pipes from freezing.
"By preparing together for winter storms, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger,” said Maria Devlin, CEO of American Red Cross in New Hampshire. “We can help you and your family create a disaster preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by dangerously low temperatures, snow, ice and strong winds.”
Unitil and the Red Cross recommend that families include pets in their emergency plans and also develop a communications plan for keeping in touch with at-risk neighbors and family members during severe weather.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.