Preparing for winter

HANCOCK – Winter is coming, and although many Copper Country residents know how to get ready for the snowy time, Pete Baril thinks more people need to think about getting ready before heavy weather hits.

Baril, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, said although some people may have emergency kits in their cars, there are too many who don’t have such kits in their homes.

In their automobiles, Beril said many U.P. drivers have the things they may need for a wintertime emergency, including snow shovel, jumper cables, cat litter or sand for tire traction, blankets and flashlights. It’s not a good idea to keep food or water in a car as part of an emergency kit, however.

“If you’re putting food and water in there, they’ll freeze solid,” he said.

Some items in a first aid kit kept in a vehicle may freeze, also, Beril said, but bandages and liquid medicines with alcohol should be fine.

An emergency car kit will probably need to include more items the farther a driver has to commute each day, Beril said. Information about what to carry in a car can be found online.

“There are all kinds of resources on the Internet,” he said.

As far as home emergency kits, Beril said although there is a minimum of what they should contain, people can get very extravagant, also.

Beril said an in-home emergency kit should include a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, which will broadcast local weather alerts.

In the event of a heavy snowfall, which prevents travel, Beril said it’s important to have a three-day supply of food and water available.

“A good rule of thumb is when you know bad weather is coming, take a look at your cabinet,” he said.

If more food and water are needed and if there’s time, it’s important to stock up.

If there are people in the home who have special needs, such as older people and children, Beril said also to have a three-day supply of what they need, such as diapers, formula for children, and medications, which may be needed by anyone.

“It’s good to have a seven-day supply (of medications),” he said. “Don’t let your prescriptions go down to one pill.”

Beril said if power is lost, it’s not a good idea to use outdoor heat sources, which put out fumes.

“They produce carbon monoxide, which can kill you,” he said.

For those who don’t have the ability to heat with wood, Beril said it would be a good idea to check with neighbors who do to see if they can take extra people into their homes during a weather crisis.

In a weather emergency, Beril said it may be necessary to turn off water and gas, so it’s important to know where the shut-off valves are.

Beril said most U.P. residents know about the requirements for winter, but it’s a good idea to rethink those things before the really bad weather comes.

“Folks in the Copper Country are winter savvy,” he said. “It’s just the little details that could escape them.”

More information about emergency preparedness can be found at the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department Twitter account at @westernuphealth.