By KIM LOCCISANO
Times Leader Staff Writer
While a quick look out the window these days may prompt you to consider packing up the shovels, salt and snowsuit and returning them to storage for yet another season, two words of caution are offered by those in the know: bad idea.
This is the month of February, and though the winter weather this season is more likely to be remembered for its absence than the damage it brought, it is not a good idea to think we've seen the worst Old Man Winter intends to inflict on our communities.
After all, paralyzing winter storms have been known to sweep through the Upper Ohio Valley just in time to have residents scrambling to trade spring bonnets for something with a touch of Alpaca or Polartec thrown in to improve the warmth factor.
Being prepared to deal intelligently and successfully with any of a variety of potential seasonal disasters or emergencies can go a long way toward reducing the very real damages they can bring in an instant.
If you are a person who prefers not to leave things to chance, it is likely you long ago identified potential crisis situations, designed plans to deal with their potential realities, did an inventory of your available resources, some shopping, some storing goods away for a really bad day and then hunkered down to see what came of it all-or didn't.
On a smaller, seemingly less ominous note: when is the last time you checked the pressure in all four tires against seasonal manufacturer's recommended levels; verified the integrity of the antifreeze and personally looked at the condition and effectiveness of your windshield wipers; and even made sure a snow and ice scraper and brush are within easy reach of the person starting the vehicle?
Regularly check the integrity of the vehicle's antifreeze and windshield washers and fluids; make sure you have some healthful snacks in the vehicle and bottles of water; put your hands on a functioning flashlight with a couple extra replacement batteries; personally verify the condition of tread for each tire.
Don't underestimate the importance of having a bag of kitty litter or sand in the vehicle to use when additional traction might be required.
Keep a small cache of readily accessible winter clothes in your car.
Should you have car trouble or become stranded on a roadway due to circumstances beyond your control, it is likely your favorite workout pants and shirt are not going to be much help at keeping the winter chill away while you wait, sometimes for hours at a time.
There is a lot to be said for being prepared for hiccups in everyday schedules that can put wrinkles in plans, be they large or small. Don't over think it. Defer to the recommendations of established experts. (You can always throw in your personal tidbits after the important points have been addressed.) Checklists and to do lists abound on the internet.
You do not have to expect doomsday to arrive tomorrow just to think it's ok to look for information on what to do and how to prepare for certain basic emergencies and disaster situations.
Organizations such as the American Red Cross, state and federal departments of transportation, departments of health and others have sound advice and quickly accessible reference information identified clearly for different situations on their public sites.
Everyday situations can become emergencies in the blink of an eye, but there are simple steps to take before, during and after emergency and disaster situations arise that can make a positive difference on their impact.
Following are some helpful hits for preparing for winter disaster courtesy of the American Red Cross.
There special considerations you must make during a winter storm. If you are indoors:
If you are outdoors: