Wintry weather such as heavy snowfall, icy conditions and extreme cold can immobilize our area at anytime during the winter.
These storms can result in closed or blocked roads, downed power lines and hypothermia.
Before the winter storms and extreme cold arrive, make sure you are prepared.
Here are some tips:
* Get a NOAA Weather Radio to monitor severe weather. Be familiar with winter storm warning messages.
* Assemble a disaster supply kit. Store drinking water, canned/no-cook food, baby formula, pet food, non-electric can opener, first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, spare blankets and a week's supply of medication where you can get to them easily, even in the dark.
Include specific items such as rock salt to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction and other snow removal equipment.
* Prepare for the possibility you will need to stay in your home for several days.
Ensure that you have sufficient heating fuel for emergency heating equipment in case electricity is cut off.
This might include a supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
* House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternative heating sources such as space heaters without taking the necessary safety precautions.
Use approved heating appliances per manufacturer's instructions.
Maintain a three-foot clearance between all heaters and combustibles.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your home knows how to use them.
* Find out ahead of time what you can do to help elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
* Develop an emergency communication plan in case family members are separated from one another.
This might be necessary if school children are released early because of inclement winter conditions.
It's important to have a plan for getting back together.
Free copies of Washington Township's 65-page Emergency Preparedness Manual are available upon request at our Township Administration Building, 6200 Eiterman Road. The manual can also be downloaded at www.wtwp.com.
Washington Township Fire Department Fire Marshal Alan Perkins submitted the Smoke signals column.