Winter is a wonderful time of year full of snow, hot chocolate and snuggles under a blanket with the ones you love most. But, unfortunately, it also brings many dangers and challenges that only come during this time of year. It is important you prepare your family in case winter brings unsafe conditions to your home and surroundings.

Prepare your vehicles

You never know when you could be stranded in your vehicle for extended periods of time. When this type of situation presents itself, it is important you are prepared. During the winter months, keep an emergency kit in your car. Fill this kit with the basic tools you need such as a first aid kit, shovel, window scraper, and even kitty litter or sand to help you gain traction if you ever find yourself stuck. If you have small children, make sure you have plenty of diapers and food available. Activities to keep them busy are also a must, such as coloring books or toys, because they will not fully understand why they are trapped inside the vehicle.

Additional items to keep in your car are extra pairs of warm clothing for all of your family members. We keep items such as extra pairs of socks, gloves and mittens in our vehicles. You will also want plenty of blankets to keep you warm because you will not want to run your vehicle due to carbon monoxide poisoning if you are stranded.

Stock your homes

When large snowstorms or ice storms affect your home, you may not be able to run to the store to pick up a few items. During the winter months, you need to make sure you have at least a week's worth of all necessities. If you have young children, this includes baby formula, food, diapers and wipes. Make sure you have enough food to last an entire week with other necessities such as toilet paper, toothpaste and deodorant.

You also will want to ensure you have items prepared in case of a power outage. Make sure food is available that doesn't require electricity or heat to cook. This can include granola bars, bread, peanut butter, cereal, etc. Furthermore, make sure you have enough light for each family member, blankets, batteries and warm clothing.

Learn how to drive in undesirable conditions

Hundreds of vehicle accidents can occur during one snowstorm. It is important that, if you must travel, you are prepared to safely drive in the winter conditions. If you are uncomfortable driving in the snow, ask an experienced and knowledgeable driver to take you out during a snowstorm. Practice is the best way to feel comfortable driving in those unwanted conditions. Also, be cautious of other drivers. Many drivers feel confident in the snow, but they do not actually know what they are doing. You may be smart on the roads, but the drivers nearby may be the biggest concern.

Be aware of carbon monoxide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Many individuals use generators, gas grills and other items to cook or heat their homes, especially during a power outage. The CDC warns against these practices. They urge people to keep grills, camp stoves and generators out of the house and advise to place generators at least 20 feet from the house. Always keep a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Check the detector every few months to ensure it is working correctly. If the alarm ever sounds, it is important you immediately leave your home and call 9-1-1.

Be flexible with your travel plans

By paying close attention to weather reports, you can anticipate when a winter storm may hit. Unfortunately, many individuals who have travel plans may disregard any storm warning and venture through the storm. Before embarking on a trip, check for any winter storm advisories. Be willing to change your plans if needed and leave a few days earlier or later than planned to avoid risking the lives of your family.

Winter storms can be fatal if you are not fully prepared. They can have lasting consequences, which is why it is so important to take the time to prepare yourself and your family from any winter danger.

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