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Get ready for Old Man Winter

Lawton_While you may think that you have everything that you need at home when there's cold weather, you may not be ready if your power goes out for several days.  Oklahoma is fourth in the country for federal disaster declarations, and number one based on population.  In the spring and fall, officials advise that you have an emergency preparedness kit in the event of tornadoes or floods, and they say you'll need a similar kit in the winter.

They say you should keep a large container somewhere in your home, housing many of the same supplies that you would need in other natural disasters or emergencies.  "You need extra clothes, extra blankets, certain types of food to keep you warm," said Comanche County Emergency Management PIO Chris Killmer.  "In case the power is out for several days during the winter months, you need to have flashlights, batteries, and a radio - and have some snacks."

Killmer says that it's not whether a disaster will happen...it's when.  While we're heading out of wildfire season, it doesn't mean that firefighters will be taking the winter off.  "There's more house fires, usually because there are more people in the home during the holidays - vacationing family come in from out of town, more activity in the home, and people get busy and forget to turn things off," said Comanche County Emergency Management Chief Clint Wagstaff.

Space-heaters are accidents waiting to happen, and can ignite carpets, blankets, trees, and more.  "During the winter season, half of the house fires are caused by carelessness - candles burning, fireplaces not being cleaned properly, using electric space heaters for heat, and having them too close to combustible materials," said Wagstaff.

Plastic electric Christmas lights also can cause fires - cords can become frayed after several uses, and exposed wiring can easily start fires.  Emergency management recommends you unplug your Christmas tree at night, and if your lights are more than a couple of years old, replace them - it's cheaper than replacing your home.

Preparedness plan workbooks are available at: http://www.comanchecounty.us/mainhome/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=191&Itemid=44.

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