November is Winter Preparedness Month

If your car gets stuck in the snow or if the power goes out at home, do you have what you need to stay safe?

November is a good time to think about how prepared you and your family are for winter, Rebecca Clark, communications manager for the Illinois Department of Emergency Management, told Illinois Radio Network.

“Being unprepared for winter weather is not only inconvenient, it can be dangerous," Clark said.

The Illinois Department of Emergency Management recommends people put together two emergency supply kits — one for your home and one for the car.

Clark recommends gradually assembling the kits.

“When you are at the grocery store, maybe pick up some canned goods and batteries. Assemble what you need piece by piece by piece. Get an ice scraper for your car, a cellphone charger, some trail mix or nuts,” Clark said.

The State Farm Insurance Co. has found nearly 1 million motorists every year wind up stranded in their cars for an hour or more. A shovel and some sand or kitty litter can help you get yourself out of a snowbank or a ditch. Sleeping bags or blankets, flashlights, water and some kind of food can keep you from getting really cold while you are waiting for help.

Drive more slowly and carefully in the winter months, the Department of Emergency Management said.

“Whether it is rain, ice or snow, in the winter we need to adjust our driving,” Clark said.

It takes 10 times longer to brake and stop on an icy road.

In your home, get your furnace serviced. Buy a 12-pack of filters and change the filter every month. If an ice storm knocks out the power, have flashlights, phone chargers, plenty of blankets, and non-perishable food.

Be aware of the risk of hypothermia. Babies who sleep in rooms that get too cold can get hypothermia, a serious medical condition where the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. Hypothermia is also a risk for hunters, hikers, anyone who works outside for extended periods and kids who get wet and cold.

Hypothermia comes on gradually, sometimes causing disorientation or mental confusion that prevents the person from getting help. Learn CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). In a case of severe hypothermia, many times CPR can revive an unconscious victim who appears to be dead.