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November 15, 2013

OUR VIEW: Don't get caught off guard by winter storms

Mother Nature tends to give us all sorts of warnings that winter is coming.

It’s almost as if she’s waving a giant, colorful poster that says, “Winter is upon you!” We ignore her warnings because we’re distracted by the beauty of the sign.

Then the leaves and temperatures fall in unison. A short time later, we wake up and notice the car windshield is a little frosted around the edges. Another warning.

Another short time later, there will be a dusting of snow and the excitement (or disgust, given the eye of the beholder) of the first snow causes us to miss the fact that it’s another warning.

Then boom, we’re hit with what all the warnings were about. The snow falls atop the icy streets and we find ourselves stuck in a ditch somewhere freezing our toes off. We’re stuck because we didn’t put a small shovel in the car in preparation for winter. We’re freezing because we didn’t put a blanket or extra clothing in the car either.

And then what happens? We curse Mother Nature for the predicament we’re in. That seems largely unfair. It’s not her fault we don’t prepare for these things. It’s our own fault, and we’re the only ones who can fix it.

How? Pack your car with an emergency kit before winter hits. It’s that simple.

When should you do it? Now. We’ve already seen many of Mother Nature’s warnings — the changing leaves, the frost-covered mornings and a brief flurry of snow. So, before the first big snow hits, take a few minutes and prepare.

Here’s what you’ll need: a shovel, windshield scraper and small broom, flashlight with extra batteries, battery-powered radio, water, snack food including energy bars, matches and small candles, extra outerwear (such as socks, mittens or hats), first aid kit with pocket knife, necessary medications, blanket, tow chain or rope, florescent flag, emergency flares and reflectors and vehicle phone. You’ll also need road salt, sand or cat litter for traction.

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