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American Red Cross urges Kentuckians to prepare now for winter storms

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Winter weather is on its way to Kentucky, and the Bluegrass 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," Sarah Terry, Disaster Services Director said. "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."

He are some helpful safety temps to consider as winter weather approaches:

· Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

· Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.

· Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

· Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.

· Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.

· Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

· Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

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 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 will help to keep 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.


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