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Preparedness can help you survive winter’s rage

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Are you ready for the next winter storm? A recent Sierra snow survey showed that while deeper than last year, the snowpack still lags normal water content. More snow is needed in the coming weeks to build reservoirs for next spring. But heavy snowfall has its downside, too. Each year, tragedy strikes when the overconfident or unprepared run foolhardy into Mother Nature’s fury. And as the retro TV ad goes, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Whether it’s a deep dump in the mountains, a windstorm through the canyons or overflowing creeks in the foothills, weather can alter the landscape in a heartbeat this time of year. And if you happen to be caught in winter’s rage, the consequences can be deadly. It’s never too late to be prepared for a major weather event, whether you’re at home, work or on the road. One part common sense and two parts the right equipment, your plan should focus on personal safety over property, and having the basic supplies to survive 48 to 72 hours without help. At home, bring the family together to create an emergency plan. Since you may be separated when disaster strikes, you’ll need to know how to contact each other, how you’ll get back together and what you’ll need to do in different situations. At work, talk with your boss and your co-workers about the existing emergency plan, and whether the plan needs to be updated. If you are the boss, sit down with your team and review the plan and how you’ll contact customers and others in order to stay in business. If you plan on being one of the thousands of holiday travelers headed into the snow-packed mountains, don’t forget that a day trip of skiing or snowboarding can be a daylong adventure in frustration, either from blistering whiteouts, paralyzing traffic or both. First, make sure you have adequate snow tires and traction devices should the roads turn to packed snow or ice. Sounds simple enough, but hundreds of motorists are stranded every weekend when they failed to respect the power of a Sierra snowstorm. Next, make sure your battery and heater are in sound working order, and always check to have at least a half-tank of gas. Finally, have a shovel, ice scraper and other tools to dig out if your car is buried. But what if you can’t get out? The basics — water, high-energy food and dry clothing — are essential to survival. Pack an adequate supply of each for every one in your traveling party in a secure container, outside of the normal backpacks and duffel bags. Extra clothes should include gloves and hats, and spare blankets are helpful, too. Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in your vehicle at all times. When the trip is over, make sure a container of emergency supplies are left in the car, should you end up traveling into inclement weather anywhere during the winter months. There’s nothing more beautiful than feet of fresh powder, just waiting to be carved and sliced. But there’s nothing worse than being caught in the storm without preparing properly. Think before you go, and you’ll be ready to enjoy whatever winter throws your way.