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Officials: Now's the Time to Plan for Winter Weather

This is Winter Storm Preparedness Month — takes steps now to be safe, and prepare your home to guard against weather damage such as ice dams.

Winter is nearly here, and in the Midwest, that can mean anything from mild conditions and little snow to Arctic blasts and accumulations of more than a foot.

Regardless, experts say there is a good chance we will experience extreme winter weather sometime this the season, and they are urging residents to prepare now.

Weather Advance Storm Center is predicting a much colder than average winter and some snow in the Chicago area and the upper Midwest.

Severe winter weather can cause power outages, create dangerous driving conditions, not to mention dangerous wind-chill conditions. So the city is urging residents to have winter emergency kits for their homes and vehicles so they are prepared for winter’s worst.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are encouraging people to prepare for winter emergencies now during Winter Storm Preparedness Month. The agencies joined with the American Red Cross to develop a downloadable Winter Weather Preparedness guide with tips for staying safe at home, on the road, at work or in school.

Download the guide at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Make a Kit for Home and the Car

According to Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service, a home emergency supply kit should be stocked with items to last for at least three days and should include a battery-powered weather alert radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, nonperishable food, water, a first-aid kit, extra medications and special items needed for babies, disabled or elderly family members and family pets.

They also suggest preparing a vehicle emergency kit to help stay safe and warm until help arrives. It should include a cellphone and charger, flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, snack foods and water, blankets, extra clothing, gloves and hats, sand or kitty litter, shovel, windshield scraper and a tool kit.

Other Preparations for Winter

But there are other preparations residents should consider before the temperatures drop and the snow flies. Ice dams are a real hazard to homes, leading to roof and water damage and expensive repairs, according to a release issued recently by Amica Insurance.

Ice dams form as ice builds up along your roof, and they prevent water from melted snow and ice from draining off the roof and cause it to leak into your home, said Mike Gillerlane, a senior assistant vice president with Amica Insurance who urges people to take preventative measures now, before there is a problem.

Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, added “Where ice dams form, roof damage and water penetration into the attic are likely.”

The resulting damage can be costly, so Amica and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offer these tips to help prevent ice dams from forming:

  • Clean debris from gutters and drains to allow for proper drainage.
  • Make sure the ceiling is airtight, so warm, moist air doesn’t flow into the attic space.
  • Increase ceiling and roof insulation to minimize the amount of heat that rises into the attic.
  • Use weather-stripping around entryways to the attic, and seal around attic ducts, light fixtures, chimneys and fans to prevent heat from melting snow.
  • If you are building a new home or re-roofing, the IBHS recommends installing watertight membranes under the roof covering to help prevent water from leaking through.

For more information on ice dams and other freeze damage, visit the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s website, www.disastersafety.org.

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