This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.
The cold has finally arrived, and with it the possibility of winter weather. Whether you’re doing the snow dance or not, now’s the time to make sure you’re ready for winter! Take these five simple steps to prepare for today and every day.
Give Your Car a Prep Check — Every year over 480,000 people are injured and more than 6,000 people are killed in weather-related crashes. Make sure your car is in prime working order before you hit the road in less-than-perfect conditions.
- Check your antifreeze, oil, brakes, heater & defroster, windshield wipers & fluid, battery, and tires for proper levels and good working order.
- Go through supplies you have stored in your car to make sure your food, water, radio, phone charger, first aid kit, kitty litter/sand, shovel, ice scraper, and blanket are still there, and in good working order. Add supplies if you’re low on anything. For a list of basic car supplies, see Ready.gov.
- Make sure to keep your gas tank at least half full (a good practice year-round, but particularly important in the winter). If you’re surprised by weather, and end up stranded on the road, a full tank of gas will provide you with hours of heat!
Check Your Stocks — Not those stocks; your preparedness stocks! Last winter following Winter Storm Jonas, residents across the region found themselves in their homes for days. Grocery stores and restaurants had difficulties restocking and serving customers. This serves as a reminder that we all need to have at least a few days of food and supplies in our homes at all times.
- Case your pantry or emergency kit, and verify that you have at least 3 days of food and water for your entire Discard and replace any food that has expired.
- Check your flashlights, radios, batteries and anything else with an on/off switch in your supplies to make sure they work and that the batteries are good.
- Do a full assessment of additional supplies you may need, and verify they are easily assessable for your entire family. A basic list of emergency supplies is available at Ready.gov.
Be Aware & Prepared — Most weather-related car accidents happen when the roads are wet or slippery from rain, snow or ice. Be aware and prepared for the conditions.
- Slow down and give yourself plenty of space when the roads are wet. If the temperature is near freezing, you may be driving on ice without realizing it.
- Weather can change rapidly- it’s important to know what you’ll be heading out into before you go. Register for ArlingtonAlert.com to receive National Weather Service warnings, as well as traffic and emergency alerts.
- Stay off the roads during snow and ice events. Not only do you put yourself at risk by taking to the roads, you also slow the clean-up efforts.
Talk the Talk — Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, over 5,000 children were separated from their families for as long as 6 months. Family communication plans are a critical component to help you and your family find one another after an emergency.
- Review your communication plan to make sure the information, such as your contacts (i.e. out-of-town contact, doctors, caregivers, etc.), meeting areas, locations (school, work, home), insurance, evacuation routes, etc. are still correct. Go to ReadyNOVA.org to develop a family communication plan that can be printed, sent and saved to mobile devices.
- Review the plan with your entire family and make sure everyone knows what to do and who to call if they are separated from you.
Get Involved — Help your community during an emergency.
- Get to know your neighbors, and find out if any may need help after a winter storm, and then offer to help if you’re able to!
- Join the Arlington Network for Community Readiness, a volunteer group who supports the Office of Emergency Management in educating and assisting Arlington for emergencies.