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Winter won’t wait; get ready for the worst

Last winter’s mild weather is no reason not to prepare for bad weather this time around. Take the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s advice and get ready now for winter storms.

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service want you to become prepared for winter storms.

Sounds like excellent advice to us.

Some people may point to last winter’s mild weather as a reason to pay little heed to Winter Storm Preparedness Month.

Let us point to the winter before last as a huge reason to get ready now.

December 2010 was rough. The region had nearly 8 inches of snow on Dec. 4, a winter storm on Dec. 12, an inch of snow on Dec. 15, and 3 to 5 inches on Dec. 20.

And what about the cold? Highs in the mid-teens and lows around zero accompanied the passage of several storm systems.

Later that winter, a blizzard ripped through the Sauk Valley in February 2011. Snow shovels, snow blowers and snow plows got a real workout.

The winter of 2008-09 was no picnic, either. Snow in December and more snow and 20-below-zero readings in January were the highlights.

Remember the vicious ice storm of Dec. 1-2, 2007? Electrical power was knocked out for 25,000 customers in ComEd’s Dixon District and 1,500 customers of the Rock Falls Electrical Department.

Statistics show that Illinois is hit by an average of five severe winter storms a year. Slippery winter roads in Illinois account for 50 traffic fatalities a year. Extreme cold kills about eight Illinoisans a year.

The point is that nasty, dangerous weather could again descend on the Sauk Valley any time now. Preparedness is better than being caught unawares.

Officials with the Emergency Management Agency, Weather Service and American Red Cross have again developed a winter storm preparedness guide. It is available online at www.Ready.Illinois.gov; people may also get a copy by calling 217-785-9925.

The guide provides tips for staying safe at home, in the car, at work and at school in the event of severe winter weather.

Of particular interest are the emergency supply kits that the guide recommends people put together for their vehicles and homes. Those could end up being life savers.

People lulled into a false sense of security by last year’s mild winter might wonder what all the fuss is about.

Jonathon Monken, IEMA director, will have none of that. “Dangerous winter weather, like extreme cold, heavy snow and ice, is just around the corner,” Monken stated in a news release.

That corner is dead ahead. Get ready for it.

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