COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If doomsday -- or, alternatively, winter -- is approaching, you'd better be prepared.
Whether you believe Dec. 21, 2012, marks the end of the world as predicted by the expiration of an ancient Mayan calendar or merely designates the 2012 winter solstice, it's not a bad idea to have a disaster kit ready, said Kent McGuire, health and safety coordinator for Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Ohio State University Extension.
"A wide variety of winter weather conditions can easily create an emergency situation,” McGuire said. “Conditions such as extreme cold temperatures, above-normal snowfall, ice storms, or blizzard conditions caused by wind can significantly reduce your ability to function through daily activities.
"Being prepared is the safest way to make the best out of a tough situation."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages all households to put together a basic disaster supplies kit in case of an emergency. Details are online on the Ready.gov website, http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit. A basic kit should include:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- First aid kit.
- Whistle to signal for help.
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- Manual can opener for food.
- Local maps.
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.
The website also includes recommendations for families with special needs, such as those with an infant or older adults. For winter preparedness, include a set of warm clothing with a coat and shoes for each person, additional sleeping bags or warm blankets, and extra personal hygiene items.
In addition, OSU Extension offers free fact sheets on freezer safety when there's a power outage (http://ohioline.osu.edu/home/freezer.html) and ideas for eating nutritiously when there's no power (http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/pdf/emergency_food_pyramid.pdf, PDF).
Finally, Ready.gov also offers recommendations for winterizing your vehicles to prepare for driving in inclement weather, including updating your vehicle's emergency kit with items including a shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, snack food, water, matches and extra hats, socks and mittens.
For details, see http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather and click on "Winterize Your Vehicle."