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The Mexico Ledger - Mexico, MO
Prepare for winter, to be safe
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Dec. 11, 2012 1:19 p.m.



Missouri’s winter is coming and with it comes seasonal hazards no matter how extreme.

One of the most frequent winter-related killers is overexertion when shoveling snow. Because someone has a coat on and they’re not sweating, they may think they are not or do not feel like they are exerting themselves. That exertion can result in a deadly heart attack. Shovel at a reasonable pace and rest as needed.

Winter cold temperatures also bring the danger of hypothermia. Missouri has had mild winters in the past. This may lull us into a dangerous sense of security. Our winters tend to have warm and cold spells. It is easy to be caught without the proper cold weather protection. Even though it is warm in the morning, longtime residents certainly remember when it has gotten cold by the afternoon or evening.

Simple preparation can prevent the life-threatening condition. Assemble disaster survival kits for the home and especially the car. Kits should include extra clothing, food and water, the three essentials for staying warm in cold weather.

Be sure to checks emergency survival kits every six months, replacing old bottled water with new and altering kits slightly from season to season. The change of time from daylight savings is a typical time of year when checking batteries in smoke detectors is recommended. This is also a good time to check emergency kits and supplies.

Home survival kits are in addition to normal supplies. A family should have food and other necessities at home to sustain themselves for up to four days in the event of a loss of all support, including power and water service.

Missouri can have ice storms. "We don’t normally get the blizzards, but we do get the ice storms." Those ice storms have been known to leave people without electricity for days or weeks. Super storm Sandy quickly followed by the nor’easter points out the numbers of people 2.1 million, who can be without power and some for an extended period of time. 

A typical home survival kit costs about $100. The kit doesn’t need to be assembled all at once for households on a limited income. Items not already on hand can be purchased one or more at a time per week at a discount retail store.

Keep supplies together so they are not used during year for non-emergency needs. Home kits can be stored in large plastic storage containers and car kits in small backpacks. Keep the home kit in an easily accessible location. Each vehicle should have its own kit. 

The following list includes recommendations from MU Emergency Management and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency for a home disaster kit. Water: One gallon per person per day. That means a family of three with a standard 96-hour survival kit would need 12 gallons of water; Food: A four-day supply per person. Food sources must survive without refrigeration, and be easy to prepare during power outages. Meals Ready to Eat, the rations used by the United States military. They are hearty meals with a long shelf life; and First aid supplies: Families can assemble their own kit with larger bandages than commonly included in basic kits. Although, basic first aid kits can be a starting place for essentials. Basic supplies should include bandages, an antiseptic solution, soap, surgical gloves and non-prescription drugs including aspirin, antacid and anti-diarrhea medication.

To these items add extra blankets, sturdy shoes or boots, hats, gloves, thermal underwear, sunglasses and rain gear. Keep flashlights with fresh batteries, a fire extinguisher and a battery-operated radio. Have chlorine bleach for emergency water purification. Include tools, most importantly a natural gas shut-off wrench if your home uses gas. Store matches in a waterproof container.

Have spare cash and resist the urge to rob the kit. Banks and ATMs may be inoperable.

Include toiletries such as toothbrushes and liquid hand soap. Also have some games or other entertainment for children.

A basic winter vehicle survival kit should include: blankets, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, booster cables, extra clothing and high-energy snacks. Have a charged cell phone and keep your gas tank filled.

Keep a shovel in the vehicle with either a box of sand or old shingles to use as traction in the event of a vehicle getting stuck in the snow. Inexpensive “tube sand” adds weight for traction and can be opened to give “grip” to ice or snow.

Always have drinking water in your vehicle, he said. Evans suggests a minimum of 12 ounces per person. Eating snow or ice can contribute and speed hypothermia.

For more information on preparing for disasters Evans suggests browsing to the federal preparedness Web site, www.ready.gov. The Callaway County Extension Center has an emergency backpack put together as a teaching tool. Ask to see it if you drop by the office.

The sources of information for this article are of Missouri Extension emergency management specialist Eric Evans, (573) 884-8984 and Jim Jarman, Agronomy Specialist (573) 642-0755. Eric is away helping with the super storm Sandy recovery. Barbara Jean (B.J.) Eavy is the temporary taking Eric’s place, 636-797-5391

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