As we are approaching the Holiday weekends and winter weather across most of the US. I’d like to take this time to remind everyone to check your car and home kits to ensure you are properly prepared.
To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:
·Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
- Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Winterize your vehicle:
- Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
- Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
- Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- Install good winter tires – Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
- Check your Kit – Ensure your tire jack, lug wrench, and spare tire are in working order and know how to use them to change a tire.
Vehicle Emergency Bag:
- Battery powered radio
- Extra batteries
- Snack food
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- Tow chain or rope
- Booster cables
- Emergency flares
- Fluorescent distress flag
- Spare fuses
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare gas, if you can safely carry it.
- Extra oil
- Tire pump and Fix a Flat.
In the winter, update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:
- A shovel
- Windshield scraper and small broom
- Extra hats, socks and mittens
- Road salt and sand
Main NPS photo by Michael Quinn