January 20, 2013
Updated Jan 21, 2013 at 11:58 AM CDT
CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- There are steps you can take to ensure safety in this cold weather.
Experts warn to give your vehicle a little extra attention. They recommend making sure you have a good set of tires and a full tank of gas before venturing outdoors.
Pets and their water bowls need to be closely monitored as the temperatures drop. At zero degrees, water can freeze in less than five minutes.
Also, make sure you're prepared to handle the weather.
"We're telling people: a lot of layers, " said Erin Miller, spokesperson for the local American Red Cross. "Make sure they've got they're mouth covered, gloves, a coat on. All these different things, if you plan to venture outside. Of course, it's best to stay inside if it's cold. But if you lose power, you want to make sure you have your disaster kit prepared and can easily be accessed."
Red Cross suggests a standard preparedness kit should include the following items:
Water - You and your family may be without water for days in the aftermath of a disaster. The Red Cross recommends that each person store one gallon of water per day for at least three days. This supply will provide water for drinking as well as limited cleaning and cooking.
Food - When preparing for a disaster, store at least three days of non-perishable, nutritious food that requires little or no water or cooking to prepare. Don't forget to store a manual can opener with non-perishable food items. When assembling items, remember that you and your family may be without water, gas, or electricity for an unknown period of time.
Medications - When assembling a preparedness kit for you and your family, remember that pharmacies may be closed in the wake of a disaster. Be sure to include a week's supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Also keep a list of all medications and dosages, allergies, doctors' names, and nearby hospitals.
Radio - Your home, or even neighborhood, may lose power in the aftermath of a disaster. Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio in your kit. Don't forget to include extra batteries in your kit to ensure you and your family stay informed throughout the course or aftermath of a disaster.
First Aid Kit - Injuries are a common occurrence in a disaster. Be prepared to treat yourself, your loved ones, and others who need help.
Personal Documents - You and your family may be displaced after a disaster. Be prepared, ensuring you have all necessary records with you - ID, passport, birth certificate, and insurance policies. Also keep an extra set of eye glasses, contact lenses, a cane, hearing aid batteries, or any other personal items you may need.
Contact Info - Keep a list of family phone numbers and addresses as well as a copy of your out-of-area emergency contact card in your preparedness kit. Note that it is often easier to make a long-distance call rather than a local call after a disaster strikes.
Map - Include a detailed map of the surrounding areas with highlighted evacuation routes. Following a disaster, roads may be closed and travel out of the affected area may not be possible. Become familiar with alternate routes to and from your home.
Money - Following a disaster, banks and ATMs may be closed. Keep small bills and change on hand to buy necessary supplies like water.
Clothing - You and your family may be forced to evacuate your home in a hurry without time to pack accordingly. Keep an extra set of warm clothes and sturdy shoes in your preparedness kit to ensure you're equipped to evacuate if needed.
Sanitary Supplies - Include extra toilet paper, feminine supplies, personal hygiene products, bleach, and any other personal products you may need in your preparedness kit.
Pet Supplies - Remember to include your pets in the plan. Make sure to assemble things your pets will need during a disaster, like food, leashes, medicine, etc.
Tools - Keep an adjustable wrench in your preparedness kit to turn off your gas if necessary. Other tools may include a manual can opener, plastic sheeting, garbage bags with ties, and duct tape.