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Are you ready for an ice storm?

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Many areas of the country are preparing for yet another round of nasty, winter weather. It is difficult to know what the newest storm will bring -- large amounts of snow or ice. An ice storm could create extremely dangerous conditions that every household should be ready for.

Ice can wreak more havoc than snow because even a small amount of ice can break power lines and bring a region to a total standstill. Are you ready for an ice storm? Here are a few tips to plan ahead.

1. Have something on hand to melt ice or offer traction to icy steps or walkways. Ice melt is great but if you don't have it (or stores are out of it by the time you get there), you can go with kitty litter or even table salt. Anything is better than nothing.

2. Have an alternative heat source on hand. If the power goes out, so does your electric heaters, centralized electric heat and even your gas furnace that uses an electric ignition. What will you do if you have no way to heat your home? Safe, indoor heaters that burn kerosene or propane (must be rated for indoor use) are a good alternative and something to keep on hand for "just in case."

For a quick and easy small emergency heater, you can try a "flower pot" heater. This won't warm your entire home but it will offer some heat and may keep you from freezing to death. Full directions can be found on Budget101.com.

3. Keep plenty of food and water on hand. If you lose power, your refrigerated and frozen foods may be lost (depending upon the length of the outage). Keep plenty of non-perishable food and bottled water on hand. Remember, you won't be able to use your oven or microwave, so food that doesn't need to be cooked is ideal. If your region freezes up, you may have to deal with frozen water lines so fill up jugs of water ahead of time.

4. Have coolers ready. Following right along, if you lose power and it is below freezing outside, you may be able to save some of your refrigerated and frozen foods by placing them into coolers and putting the coolers outside in the below-freezing temperatures.

5. Keep plenty of hygiene supplies on hand. Toilet paper, feminine products, baby diapers and the like are a necessity and you won't be able to run to the store if your region is iced in. Keep plenty of these items on hand to last through an ice storm.

6. Stock up on flashlights, batteries, lamp oil. When the electricity goes down you will need lights. Make sure you know exactly where your flashlights (and extra batteries) are located. If you have oil lamps, fill them with oil before the power goes out. Make sure you have lighters or matches to light the lamps. Remember, the flashlights do you no good if they are scattered in various drawers around the house. Once the power goes out, you will have trouble finding them.

7. Have plenty of blankets on hand. If the power goes out during an ice storm, you may need to conserve heat in your homes. You may have to consider moving the whole family into one central room and closing everything else off. Close off doorways with blankets, cover windows and outside entries with blankets to conserve heat. To stay warm, everyone will need to bundle up in layers and extra blankets will help.

Hopefully you won't have to deal with an ice storm and power outage, but if you do, these are just a few tips to remember while you prepare ahead of time. This list is not comprehensive. For more tips, be sure to check out the FEMA preparedness website.

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