OKLAHOMA CITY -- With winter weather in the forecast, The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma is urging residents to take steps now to be ready - and safer - when severe weather threatens.
"By preparing together for winter storms, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger," James Tittle, Assistant Director of Emergency Services 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."
In 2010, Central Oklahoma was heavily impacted by a snowstorm on Christmas Eve that stranded travelers. During this event and the following ice storm in January, Red Cross volunteers provided emergency shelter to those impacted by the storms.
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 Winter Emergency Preparedness Kit that includes:
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.
Plan for your pets. Cold temperatures impact animals as well. You may need to re-evaluate their sheltering situation in severe cold. Make sure to check their water source to ensure it has not frozen over. If you evacuate, take your pets with you. However, be aware that pets (other than service animals) usually are not permitted in emergency public shelters for health reasons. Prepare a list of family, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians, and "pet-friendly" hotels that could shelter your pets in an emergency.
For more information on winter storm preparedness, contact the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Red Cross at 405-228-9500, visit http://www.redcross.org or http://www.cruzrojaamericana.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
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