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Wind, ice, and snow affect traffic and deny access to many secondary roads and driveways during a winter storm in upstate of South Carolina, Jan. 22.

As you prepare for winter weather, make sure you and your family know how to safeguard yourself from cold temperatures, snow and ice. Snow, sleet and freezing temperatures can knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office.

Get prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages, and follow these steps from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to prepare your home.

  • Check your heating systems and have them professionally serviced.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide (CO) and smoke detector. Check its batteries regularly. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911. Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
  • Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
  • Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged.
  • Keep an up-to-date emergency kit and refill any prescriptions that are due to be refilled.
  • Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing at all times. It is best to layer light, warm clothing, gloves, scarves, hats and waterproof boots for wetter weather. Work slowly when doing outside chores, and take a friend and an emergency kit when participating in outdoor recreation.
  • You should also prep your car for colder climates. Have your radiator serviced and check antifreeze levels. Check your tire tread, and if necessary, replace your tires with all-weather or snow tires. Keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines, and use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer. It is also smart to prepare a winter emergency kit for your car. Pack blankets, non-perishable foods, and water and plastic bags for sanitation. Be sure to include booster cables, flares, a tire pump, flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries and a first aid kit. If an accident does occur, with these essentials, you should have enough materials to keep you safe and warm until help arrives.
  • When it’s cold out, try to check on family and neighbors who are at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you can’t bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink. Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous for all, but if you plan ahead, you can stay safe and healthy! Visit ready.gov for more tips, resources and winter safety ideas.

TRICARE can help you stay informed about your benefit in times of severe weather. When a state of emergency is issued, TRICARE may authorize early prescription refills, blanket waivers for referrals or other emergency benefits. When authorized, any emergency benefits are announced in email disaster alerts along with their effective dates.

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