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Our View: Prepare for winter's worst

Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Winter weather already has brushed McHenry County with minor snowfalls.

Temperatures in the 50s this week belie the fact that serious snow, ice and cold are just around the corner.

Indeed, while the region has had a general reprieve from difficult conditions, the Upper Midwest just got hit with heavy snow.

Central Illinois expected its own band of ice and snow to move through Thursday and Friday.

The same system will usher in colder temperatures here.

If people aren’t ready for winter’s worst, time’s a-wasting.

In recent years, several agencies have banded together to provide winter preparedness information to the public. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, and Red Cross put together useful information, which is available at ready.illinois.gov or by searching for “Illinois Winter Weather Preparedness Guide” on the Internet.

Though veterans of Illinois winters know the drill, it doesn’t hurt to review the tips and suggestions for enduring the season. Newcomers have even more reason to bone up on surviving winter in the Prairie State.

In a news release, Jonathon Monken, director of the IEMA, put it this way:

“In Illinois, it’s a question of when snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures will hit, not if they will occur. Getting caught unprepared may not be just inconvenient, it could be dangerous. Now’s the time to take a few minutes to put together your home and vehicle emergency supply kits and review the steps you should take to stay safe during hazardous winter weather.”

It could be dangerous? Yes.

Three people died of exposure in Illinois last year. Since 1995, 134 people have lost their lives because of the cold.

Winter driving conditions cause 51 fatalities a year, on average, and 4,450 injuries in 29,260 vehicle crashes.

Illinois experiences, on average, five severe winter storms a year – each with the potential to significantly disrupt daily activities.

Cars can get stuck in blizzard conditions. People can get snowed in. The electricity can go out. Arctic cold can grip the region for days or weeks.

So, is your car ready? Is your home ready? Are your family members ready? Are you ready?

If not, the time is now to get ready.

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