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Be prepared for severe winter weather

GREATER SPRINGFIELD — This winter, Western Massachusetts has seen several winter storms. As temperatures continue to drop and with additional storms on the horizon, the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross urges residents to take steps now to stay safer when severe weather threatens.
"By preparing together for winter storms, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger," Dawn Leaks, Red Cross Pioneer Valley assistant director of chapter support, said. "We can help you and your family create a disaster preparedness plan now, as our community is threatened by dangerously low temperatures, snow, ice and strong winds."
"By preparing together for winter storms, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger."
Dawn Leaks, Red Cross Pioneer Va

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for winter storms by:
  • Assembling an emergency preparedness kit: Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, make sure you have a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home 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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (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 a home and car: winterize the vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which will help to keep the fuel line from freezing. Make sure a 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.
For more information on winter storm preparedness, contact the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross at 737-4306 ext. 1917, visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS.
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