It's not luck to be prepared

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March is here, but that doesn’t mean winter weather is over. Remember that “bomb cyclone” last March? Yea, we do too. That is why we are still talking about winter weather preparedness!

It is important to make a plan so your family is ready for severe winter weather. How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings? Do you have everything you need in case you are snowed in for a couple of days? What if you get snowed in at work? What if the power goes out? What if you become stranded while driving? There is lots to think about, but there is no need to worry. Here are some tips to get you started.

Have an emergency kit

A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have a kit for

  • Home: Gather everything you would need for at least three days. Make sure to consider each individuals needs such as medication, formula and diapers for babies, and pets
  • Evacuations: If the power goes out for an extended period during cold weather, you may need to leave your and go to a warming shelter or other location
  • Vehicle: Make sure you have everything you need if you become stranded away from home

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Have multiple ways to get information

Sign up for emergency alerts from El Paso/Teller 911. These local alerts inform you about situations such as man-made disasters, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, crime, or neighborhood/business evacuation notifications. You can sign-up for up to five locations (for example: your home, work, school) and choose to receive them by phone call, text, or email. You must sign up in order to receive these alerts. 

Download the FEMA app. This app allows you to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations (counties). You’ll also find emergency safety tips, shelter information, disaster recovery centers, online disaster assistance, and FEMA’s disaster reporter.

Winterize your home and vehicle

Know how to keep pipes from bursting and how to shut off water valves in case they do. Make sure carbon monoxide detectors are working and have battery backups. Have safe, emergency heating options.

Make sure your vehicles emergency kit is in an accessible place. If you become stranded, it might be difficult to get to supplies in your trunk. Fill up your gas tank and make sure you have plenty of antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.

Be ready for power outages

The wet, heavy snow and ice we sometimes get in the springs can cause power outages. Make sure you are prepared in case you have to go a couple of days without electricity.

Make sure your emergency kit ( is stocked. Do not forget to include medications, an alternate power source to charge cell phones and medical devices, and activities for the kids that do not require a power source.

Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.

Be a good neighbor

Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Help out neighbors who can’t shovel driveways or sidewalks.

Be ready when you are on the road

Give snowplows space. If you pass a snowplow driving in the opposite direction, be cautious. The front plow is wide and may cross the centerline. If you are behind a plow, use caution if you pass. Snowplow drivers have a limited field of vision and they cannot always see you.

Know what to do if you become stranded. If you can, move your vehicle to the side of the road. Stay with your vehicle. This will make it easier for rescuers to find you. You can hang a distress flag from your window or antenna. Minimize engine running time to just a few minutes each half-hour, just long enough to take the chill off. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. 


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