Winter is coming and with it comes seasonal hazards.
One of the most frequent winter-related killers is overexertion when shoveling snow, said Eric Evans, a University of Missouri Extension emergency management specialist.
"Because a person has their coat on and they're not sweating, they think they're not exerting themselves when they really are," Evans said.
That exertion can result in a deadly heart attack. He suggests shoveling slowly and resting as needed.
Winter cold temperatures also bring the danger of hypothermia. Simple preparation can prevent the life-threatening condition. Evans suggests assembling disaster survival kits for the home and the car. Kits should include extra clothing, food and water, all three essential for staying warm in cold weather.
He checks emergency survival kits every six months, replacing old bottled water with new and altering kits slightly from season to season.
Home survival kits are in addition to normal supplies. Evans said a family should have food and other necessities at home to sustain themselves for up to four days in the event of a loss of all support, including power and water service.
"Missouri tends to have ice storms," Evans said. "We don't normally get the blizzards, but we do get the ice storms." Those ice storms have been known to leave people without electricity for days or weeks.
Evans' home survival kit costs about $100. He said the kit doesn't need to be assembled all at once; households on a limited income can purchase one or more needed items per week at a discount retail store.
Keep supplies together, he said. Evans puts car kits in small backpacks. His home kit is in a large plastic tub, kept an easily accessible location.
The following list includes recommendations from Evans and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency for a home disaster kit.
Water: One gallon per person per day. That means a family of three with a standard 96-hour survival kit would need 12 gallons of water.
Food: A four-day supply per person. Food sources must survive without refrigeration, and be easy to prepare during power outages. Evans keeps Meals Ready to Eat, the rations used by the United States military. They're hearty meals with a long shelf life.
First aid supplies: Evans assembles his own kit with larger bandages than commonly included in basic kits. Basic supplies should include bandages, an antiseptic solution, soap, latex gloves and non-prescription drugs including aspirin, antacid and anti-diarrhea medication.
To these items Evans adds extra blankets, sturdy shoes or boots, hats, gloves, thermal underwear, sunglasses and rain gear. Keep flashlights with fresh batteries, a fire extinguisher and a battery-operated radio.
Have chlorine bleach for emergency water purification. Include tools, most importantly a natural gas shut-off wrench if your home uses gas.
Store matches in a waterproof container.
Have spare cash, he said. Banks and ATM machines may be inoperable during a disaster.
Include toiletries such as toothbrushes and liquid hand soap. Also have some games or other entertainment for children.
Evans has car survival kits for every driver in his family. A basic winter vehicle survival kit should include: Blankets, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, booster cables, extra clothing and high-energy snacks. Have a charged cell phone and keep your gas tank filled.
Keep a shovel in the vehicle with either a box of sand or old shingles to use as traction in the event of a vehicle getting stuck in the snow.
Always have some drinking water in your vehicle, he said. Evans suggests a minimum of 12 ounces per person.
For more information on preparing for disasters Evans suggests browsing to the federal preparedness website, www.ready.gov.