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Being safe is better than being sorry, especially with an ice storm

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The big story on news channels Saturday in Central Virginia is the long-awaited arrival of a winter storm, packing an icy mix of sleet and freezing temperatures on Sunday.

We've watched this storm roll across the country, leaving some fairly impressive snowfall, blustery winds and ice in its path, and now it has its eyes set on Virginia. With cold weather on Saturday setting the stage, the storm system is expected to come in from the south.

Generally, this kind of entrance means we will probably be in for some bad weather. It is expected that the storm will start out as some snow, turning to a mixture of snow and sleet, before turning to rain later in the day.

The big concern for meteorologists is the rush of warmer air expected to follow this system, also coming in from the south. This warmer air will be hugging the ground, and will cause much of the precipitation to turn to rain. But the ground will still be at freezing temperatures, causing the rain to freeze on contact.

So now is a good time to take stock of what you have, and what is needed in case we have a loss of electrical power here in the Richmond-metro area. Let's make a short check-list of things to be done:

Food and water

We are not talking snacks, OK? A loaf or two of bread, canned sandwich spreads, snacks, canned or bottles soft drinks and water for three days is recommended. If there is a baby in the home, appropriate food and liquid nourishment is needed, too.

Medications and first aid kit

Make sure all prescriptions have been refilled. Check the home first-aid supplies, and refill anything that is out-of-date or needs to be replenished. Make sure OTC pain relievers, band-aids and topical antibacterial ointments are available.

Inside the home- General considerations

In the event of a power outage, have a plan for what will happen in your home with your family. If you plan on staying put, there should be a plan in place for keeping everyone warm and safe. Think about lighting, and a battery-powered radio. Please do not depend on candles or kerosene heaters in an enclosed room. This can be dangerous.

If the family has a fireplace, and it is normally in use during cold weather, so much the better. Instead of candles, have LED lanterns or some other kind of artificial lighting at hand.

Outside the home

Take a stroll around the outside of your home to check on the gutters and to see if there is any loose siding or shingles. Trees are another danger, especially in an ice storm. Ice build-up will easily crack or split tree limbs, and can cause damage to a house or car.

Miscellaneous things to think about

Being stuck inside can be stressful and sometimes, downright boring. So check out where those family games are ahead of time. Everything, from card games to Candy Land are fun to play. Arts and crafts are a good activity to get the whole family involved in, especially if everyone is making decorations for the tree.

Pets need extra attention when it's cold and icy outside. When the family pet comes in from the cold, check those paws for any damage from being on the ice too long.

Our elderly family members and neighbors are also at risk during cold and stormy weather. Call or go by to make sure everything is well with them, and don't forget to make a follow-up call or visit.

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