Are you prepared for this weekend’s winter storm?

(WYTV) – Winter storms can be scary — snow, ice and the possibility of losing power. That’s why it’s important to be prepared, especially with a storm headed our way this weekend.

“For your home, you want to have extra blankets, extra water, nonperishable food items,” said Dennis O’Hara, with the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency.

He said there are several ways to stay warm. One of them is using your fireplace — but only if you’ve been using it regularly.

“There could be a bird’s nest in there, there could be animals in there. If it hasn’t been cleaned and inspected, you don’t know if it’s safe to use,” O’Hara said.

A generator can also keep you warm. Generator Specialist’s Mike Krake said they’re a great resource during a power outage, but not without the proper care.

“They need exercise at least once a week so that you can be sure that when you do need it, we’re going to do the best we can to make sure that it’s ready to run,” Krake said.

Having the proper placement — somewhere outside — is also important.

“Please do not put it in a house, do not keep it in any enclosed back porch, front porch, garage because that will build up the carbon monoxide,” O’Hara said.

If you’re interested in a generator and don’t have one, consider how much electricity you’ll need.

“If they go to the extent that they don’t have to worry about anything and they want an automatic system, that takes a bit more time to put in and we have to plan for that,” Krake said.

Planning is a big part of a generator investment. Even so, Krake said he doesn’t see much planning when it comes to storms.

“This is more when people think of emergency power after the fact, not necessarily before, so people aren’t usually proactive. They react to the situation of not having power.”

How to Prepare Before the Storm (from Ready.gov):

  • Make a family communications plan: If you’re not together when the storm hits, how will you get in touch with each other if something happens?
  • Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency
  • Be careful with space heaters: Use electric heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Keep them at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Have an emergency charging option for your cell phone in case you lose power (power bank, car, solar, hand crank, etc.)
  • If you rely on electricity to operate medical equipment, have a backup plan
  • Plan to check on elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors
  • Bring pets inside
  • Prepare your home
    • Know how to open and close your garage door manually in case the power goes out
    • Make sure it’s well-insulated with weather stripping around doors and windows; install storm windows if possible
    • Have a working carbon monoxide detector
    • Keep fire extinguishers on hand and know how to use them
    • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts
    • Have extra blankets, sleeping bags, warm winter coats, hats, gloves, etc. in case you lose heat
    • Fill a gallon container with water and place it in the freezer to help keep food cold
  • Prepare your vehicle
    • Have a mechanic check your car to make sure it’s in good shape
    • Keep your gas tank at least half-full
    • Store an emergency kit inside your car that includes a cell phone charger, ice scraper, blanket, sand for traction, flares or reflective triangles and jumper cables

For tips on what to do during and after a winter storm, visit Ready.gov.

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