With winter well on its way back to Western New York, now is as good time as any to review your emergency preparation plan. Or, if you don't have one, create one.

If we learned anything from the Blizzard of 2022, it's that disaster can strike at any time, and it's the ones who prepare now who will likely make it out of it intact. Now, that doesn't absolve our government from doing what it can to keep us safe, but it is ultimately our responsibility to make sure we can make it a few days before help can get to us.

New York State Offers Disaster Training

Since 2014, the New York State National Guard, in partnership with the New York State Office of Emergency Management and NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control, has offered a series of training classes called Citizen Preparedness Corps.

The Citizen Preparedness Corps aims to give residents tools and resources to prepare for any disaster, respond accordingly, and recover as quickly as possible. The courses serve as an introduction to responding to a natural or human-caused disaster. People participating in these free trainings are advised on properly developing family emergency plans and stocking up on emergency supplies.

They're offered all over New York State at local National Guard armories, community centers, and places where people gather.

There are several locations around Western New York where these trainings are held.

Take Steps Now To Make Sure You Have The Proper Supplies

Given that we still have a long way to go before we spring into the warmer months, there are quite a few things we can do now to make sure we're better prepared for when the snow starts falling again.

The CDC, State of New York, National Weather Service, Department of Homeland Security, and other government agencies, along with non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross, all produce lists of items and steps we should take to ensure we're properly prepared to survive emergencies in the winter.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services suggests you have preparations to survive for a few days on your own in an emergency in case emergency services can't get to you right away.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
-US Department of Homeland Security

If there is anything we learned from the Buffalo Blizzard of 2022, we must ensure we're prepared to take care of ourselves for a little while. So, we've listed some of the best suggestions from all of them below.

Remember, The Most Likely Disaster We May Face Is Excessive Winter Weather

While hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and other things can happen, the most likely scenario we'll need to deal with is extreme winter weather that leaves us without power and trapped inside for several days. With that in mind, there are some things you can do now to make sure you're prepared.

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Have A Plan

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a storm prep plan. This will include, but not be limited to, knowing when and where a storm is coming and having a communication plan for your family and other important people, knowing ahead of time where your supplies are and where the various types of shelters are, and being ready to act when things happen.

The CDC and Red Cross both recommend that you go as far as having emergency contact cards with important numbers and maps to important places on hand and stored in a safe place.

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Prep Your Home

A big part of having your plan together is making sure your home is ready and prepared for winter weather.

Before a storm comes, this will include taking steps to keep the cold air out of your house by updating your insulation, caulking, and applying weather stripping. You can also put insulation on your pipes to help keep them from freezing and ensure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors working their battery backups in working order.

While at it in the house, you should also gather enough supplies for anywhere from 3 to 7 days. When you do this planning, consider the needs of each person in your household (including any pets).

Those supplies should include food, water, medicine, extra batteries, and device chargers. Also, ensure you have enough warm clothing, like hats, gloves, and blankets for everyone.

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Prep Yourself

Once you have your house prepped, you also have to make sure that you have everything you need, just in case you have to go outside in a storm or leave your home if you lose power. If this happens, plan to dress appropriately. Make sure to keep your nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes covered in warm, dry clothes because these are the first body parts at risk for frostbite. Also, make sure you are wearing layers of loose-fitting clothing.

If your house gets too cold, then make sure you know ahead of time where you're going and let people know that as well.

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Gather Necessary Information to Stay Updated

One of the biggest things I noticed is that people said they did not know the last two storms would be as bad as they were. One way to make sure this doesn't happen again is to make sure you are getting the proper updates from reputable sources. This includes New York State, Erie County, the City of Buffalo, and your favorite radio station.

Having these apps on your devices and the alerts turned on can ensure you are in the know the next time something urgent happens.


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