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Winter arrives: Are you ready?

Abigail Nesbit

FAIRMONT — Ready or not, winter is here. That means a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing is certain: emergency situations can crop up quickly and sometimes last for days.

Whether it’s slippery streets, blinding blizzards or freezing flurries, we all need to remember the importance of being prepared.

Abigail Nesbit, Martin County Emergency Management director, discussed some of the things she is doing for the county, as well as tips for individuals.

“In emergency management, I am already thinking out a few months,” she said. “I have been pushing CodeRED for a while now and have more people registered, so in case of a blizzard like in February, where the lower half of the state was closed, I would be able to send out an emergency alert to the public so that they can be aware.

“I have also been working with local township officials to apply for a hazard mitigation grant, which can help with the destroyed roads and frost boils from last year. This grant, in theory, will help more permanently repair roads, equipment and structures for future years, rather than just patchwork.”

“As for businesses, families and individuals, there are general items that all people should have for a winter safety kit, both at home and in their car,” Nesbit continued. “Additionally, people who have mobility issues, medical issues, dependents, etc., need to be extra aware and prepared. Having extra medication on hand in case weather prohibits traveling for refills.”

Some recommendations for the home include having 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, flashlight, whistle, manual can opener, local maps and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.

“Ice storms can knock out power for days at a time, so having a reliable alternate power supply will be vital for those who need power, and depending on the snow, emergency help may not be able to get out and assist to transport,” Nesbit said. “Having a generator, or an agreement with neighbors to share power or generators, is a conversation that needs to happen before winter arrives.

“Also, hospitals are trying to get the word out to people, that when power fails, to not come to the hospital, and to stay where they are and hunker down as best they can with their emergency supplies,” she added. “Odds are, if you’re impacted, the hospital will be impacted too, and they won’t be able to care for everyone when the power is out.”

Nesbit also shared the importance of having an emergency kit in vehicles.

“Traveling is always a risk during the winter here, so having an emergency kit in the car, or at least a blanket or extra clothes to keep warm is absolutely vital,” she said. “If your car goes into the ditch or you have to pull over in a blizzard, stay in your car and wait for the weather to pass, don’t get out and try to flag down help.

“Last year, when roads were either closed or ‘travel not advised,’ there were still a lot of people who went out and got themselves stuck, then requiring our first responders to put themselves in danger to go rescue people … not good. When the roads are slick or covered in snow, or visibility is bad, the advisories aren’t put out there to make live harder for people, it’s trying to save people’s lives. It is entirely better to be safe rather than sorry. On that same line of thought, going around ‘road closed’ barricades is illegal, not to mention dangerous.”

Nesbit offered a reminder that animals are a part of the family too and need their own emergency kits. To that end, she has created brochures for house pets and farm animals detailing their needs.

Nesbit can be reached at (507) 238-3193 or through the Martin County website at www.co.martin.mn.us

The following links provided by Nesbit give guidance in preparing emergency kits for homes and vehicles:

https://www.ready.gov/kit

https://www.ready.gov/car

For road conditions, people can check out the following link:

https://tr.511mn.org

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