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The Best of NJ recently ran an article on Winter Preparedness based on a discussion with Jeff Paul, director of emergency management for Morris County.  Given the wealth of good tips, we share the article below in full.

NJ PREPAREDNESS: THE BEST WINTER WEATHER TIPS

Now that the colder temperatures have arrived, snow and ice are right around the corner. While the kids may be psyched to have a day off from school, for the adults in the home, winter weather means a messy commute to work, the stress of preparing for storms and the dreaded act of snow shoveling.

We here at Best of NJ want to help make managing winter weather as stress-free as possible. With that in mind, we spoke to Morris County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director, Jeff Paul, to put together a preparedness list of key winter weather tips. (Though they admittedly won’t make shoveling any less of a chore, sorry!)

Prepare your home

Paul and his team at the Morris County OEM urge residents throughout the Morris County and New Jersey area as a whole to stock up before it’s too late. Items on every general store checklist should include flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, food that doesn’t require heating or refrigeration, a battery operated radio and clock, cellphones with extra chargers and all necessary medications. In addition, Paul urges residents to also stock up on items for the four-legged members of the family as well, including extra water and food.

In the event that temperatures go below 32 degrees, one of the most important things to do is stay inside. (This includes pets!) Paul also recommends not using charcoal-burning devices, but instead wearing layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothes. For those using space heaters, make sure to have carbon monoxide alarms installed in your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen without any noticeable symptoms, so replace the batteries before each storm.

An important tip you may not have thought about is that below freezing temperatures can also cause issues to the pipes in a home, so keep cabinet doors open to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances on exterior walls. Freezing pipes tend to be a big issue each winter, so make sure each member of the household knows how to shut off water valves; in the event of a pipe burst, this could save you money in the long run.

Prepare your vehicle

Preparing your car for the winter months is a key component of preparedness, in the event a motorist becomes stuck in a blizzard or white out conditions. While not a necessity, packing a bag to keep in the trunk with warm clothes can help aid those who are stranded. In addition to clothes, keeping the gas tank as close to full as possible can help vehicles stay functional in the winter months. By keeping the gas tank away from E, the fuel line can be kept from freezing.

Paul’s team also suggests taking the car for a full inspection before those snowy mornings hit, ensuring any problems are handled in advance of winter. For example, have the tires checked. If tire treads are slowly wearing away, paying the price for four new tires upfront will be better than replacing a vehicle after an accident. Common replacements before winter should include windshield wipers, oil and fluids, air filters, tires and brake pads.

If you must drive in snowy or sleet-like conditions, leave enough time to arrive at your destination safely. Avoid hard braking and keep a safe following distance from other vehicles on the road. Of course, it goes without saying, but keep a shovel, snow melt and an ice scraper in your vehicle as ice can be unpredictable. Keeping a bag of sand or kitty litter in your trunk for traction is also a good idea; sprinkling it underneath the tires can make them stop spinning.

Power Outages

Power outages during major storm events are inevitable. Paul suggests keeping cash on hand, because banks and ATM machines depend on electricity to serve their purpose. Avoid opening the freezer and fridge as much as possible; certain foods can last up to 6 hours in the event of a power outage. Make sure to have an emergency power supply for anyone who requires power for medical equipment, with enough medication to last a week. In addition to medication, have a supply of one gallon of water, per person, for a maximum of 3 days.

Another important thing to keep in mind during a power outage is to simply not panic. Paul assured us that crews from all power companies are mobilized in case of a winter weather incident. The crew’s response time can vary, but they are indeed responding. If a power outage lasts overnight or into the later hours, use extra blankets and close all doors to seal the heat into one confined area of the home.

With social media these days, almost all the OEM Offices have social media profiles where you can get up-to-the-minute information when winter weather strikes. While these tips can be useful, be sure to have the contact information of your county’s Office of Emergency Management on hand. For a full list of contact information for every New Jersey county, head to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management website.

Stay safe this winter, New Jersey.

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