Time to get ready for winter blasts

Today marks the start of Winter Storm Preparedness Week in Illinois, and state officials say now is the time to assemble emergency kits for homes and vehicles.

"As we saw last year, severe winter weather can trap people in their homes without heat or power for several days," said a statement from Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Velasquez III.

Velasquez recommends keeping a home preparedness kit containing a three-day supply of nonperishable food, bottled water (one gallon per family member per day), a battery-operated radio, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, extra medications and any special items required for babies, the disabled and the elderly.

He also recommends assembling a car survival kit including a cell phone and charger; a first-aid kit; water and high-calorie, nonperishable food; boots, hats, gloves and extra clothing; a blanket; a crank-powered radio and flashlight; a sack of sand or cat litter; a shovel; a windshield scraper and brush; a tool kit; a tow rope; booster cables; a compass and road maps; and a small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water.

A Winter Storm Preparedness Guide developed by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross is available online at www.state.il.us/iema or by calling 785-9888.

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