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25 Days of Preparedness with Timmy, Tina & Titus

Join our Elf Team all December as they are on a mission to help you prepare for the winter season! You can view the topics and tips here, but please connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to share content and add in your own tips! You can also follow #PrepElf!

Salt / Sand / Snow Plow drivers will soon be on the roads helping us prepare for the next winter storm. Here are the Top 2 Things They Want You To Know.

1.) Don't crowd the plow.  They will likely be going below the posted speed limit, and this can be frustrating when you are trying to get to work or school on time. Allow for additional space between you and the vehicles as they may make multiple passes in a large intersection and will rock back slightly while on inclines (this is where drivers see the most accidents).

2.) Don't pass the plows. They are salting/sanding/plowing to make the roads safer for you. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. While you may see them, they may not see you. Keep your distance and watch for sudden stops or turns. This may mean leaving earlier than usual to allow for delays. If you must pass, do so with extreme caution.

Whether your shopping takes you to Downtown Lawrence, your favorite shop, or a new adventure, use these tips to keep yourself and your purchases safe.

1.) Keep Your Valuable Out of Sight

Don't leave valuables and personal items (cell phone, iPad, money/change, purse/wallet, GPS units, etc.) in plain sight in your vehicle - even for a short time. This includes removing the suction cup or stand of the GPS unit.

2.) Keep Your Packages/Bags Out of Sight

Don't leave packages or shopping bags in your vehicle in plain sight. If possible, place these in your trunk prior to moving on to your next store.

3) Always Lock Your Vehicle.

While this seems like a no-brainer, it gets forgotten more often than you might think.

4- Always park in lighted areas. Don't park in remote areas.

Another tip related to this is to shop with friends or family. Share your plans with someone close, so they know when to anticipate your return. You could also call on them to help if you have vehicle trouble or need some assistance.

5- Stay Aware of Your Surroundings.

Distractions are all around us, especially with the heavier holiday shopping season upon us. Searching for the store location, that great parking spot, or handling shopping partners can makes us a little less attentive to what's going on around us. Be cautious when traveling between stores on foot or in your vehicle.

Many of us will travel this holiday season or in the near future leaving our homes susceptible to theft. Here are a few tips to prepare your house before you leave on a trip.

Get Some Help from Your Friends / Family

  • Ask someone to bring in or pick up your packages and mail. You can also put a "hold" on your mail, so it doesn't pile up alerting anyone that you are not home.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to park in your driveway. This leaves the appearance that someone is still home.
  • Ask if a neighbor or friend will shovel your driveway following a snow event.
  • Give your trusted friend/neighbor an emergency contact number where you can be reached if there is a problem.
  • Complete a property check request with your local police department.

Doors, Windows and Lights

  • Locking your doors and windows seems like a no-brainer, but during the hustle and bustle of packing and preparing for a trip, this step gets missed many times.
  • Put your lights on timers to convey a sense that someone is still home or in your residence.

Don't Announce It

While you are encouraged to share your trip with those that will be helping you, don't share your trip on social media or leave a message on your answering machine that you are gone.

Electronics, Electricity and Water

  • Unplug any unnecessary electronics to reduce power used and reduce possible hazards while away.
  • If you’ll be gone for more than a week, turn off the internal water valve. Many homeowners have come home to find an old pipe broke or the washing machine hose failed and their home is flooded.
  • Never set your thermostat lower that 55 degrees.

Whether waiting at the bus stop, sledding, working, exercising, etc., keep these tips handy all winter long.

1 - Bring Out Your Layers:

Cooler temperatures are returning to the forecast, so it’s time to pull out your winter weather gear - gloves, scarves, hats and lots of layers. Wearing several warm layers of clothing will help keep you insulated the from cold.

2 - Avoid the Freeze

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures should be minimized. Use those layers to keep warm, but limit your time outdoors and exposed skin during extreme cold. Also, take a moment to review the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia

3 - Stop! In the Name of Sweat!

While outdoors in the cold, your body is working overtime to keep warm. Avoid overexerting yourself (shoveling, running, working, etc.) during outdoor activities.

4 - Keep Calm and Know the Chill

Wind chill, that is. That’s the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. These temperatures can get dangerous very quickly. Use the wind chill chart on the CDC page to determine when to go indoors.

These are only 4 of the many tips that can be found by visiting the CDC's website.

Communications are a must during emergencies. You should have more than one way to receive emergency notices, but also consider sharing information with first responders. Here are a few options to consider.

  • Free weather alerts are provided by Douglas County's call notification system.
  • Sign up for a Smart911 account. Register your cell phone or landline with the system, so first responders will be able to see important information you put in the system when you dial 911 - even if you cannot speak.
  • iPhone users can enable the Medical ID to show an emergency contact without having to unlock your phone. We do reminder you that anything you enter becomes available to anyone who has access to your phone.

Texting, smart phone apps, social media and other services are also options to keep you connected during small and large emergencies.

Holidays include decorations, parties, friends, food and a sense of celebration. Don't let that celebration turn into an emergency by taking these 3 things into consideration.

1.) Keep These Common Foods Sealed and Away from Pet Areas

  • Alcohol- Alcoholic drinks are commonly available around the holidays and can be dangerous to dogs and cats
  • Caffeine- Commonly in coffee, tea, energy drinks and diet pills. Caffeine can affect the heart, stomach, intestines and the nervous system.
  • Chocolate- Theobromine the toxic chemical in chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and arrhythmias. Higher concentrations found in Bakers Chocolate and Dark Chocolate
  • Fatty foods- Vomiting, diarrhea and pancreatitis can be caused by ingestion of table scraps.
  • Grapes and Raisins- Even small amounts of grapes or raisins can harm your dog’s kidneys or even prove deadly
  • Macadamia Nuts- Common in cookies and candies. Can cause vomiting, lethargy and loss of muscle control
  • Onions and Garlic- Can cause an upset stomach to severe anemia with prolonged ingestion.
  • Salt-Large amounts of salt (sea water) can cause brain swelling leading to neurological signs such as loss of coordination and seizures.
  • Xylitol- Commonly in chewing gum and can cause vomiting, low blood sugar, weakness, liver failure and death.
  • Yeast Dough- Gas expansion can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or even bloat and a twisted stomach
  • Marijuana- More frequently this drug is being made into butter and used in baked goods. Pets will ingest the baked goods or the remnants of butter or marijuana itself.

2.) Keep These Toxic Plants Out of Reach

  • Lilies- Common flowers in holiday arrangements can be deadly to cats.
  • Poinsettias- Mild irritation of the stomach and mouth may occur with ingestion.
  • Holly- Can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
  • Mistletoe- Gastrointestinal upset most commonly, but can also cause heart problems.

3.) Hazards Around the Christmas Tree / Home Decorations

  • Electric Cords- Dogs and cats can chew on the holiday light cords and be electrocuted.
  • Ribbons and tinsel- Pets can ingest these and it may lead to an intestinal obstruction.
  • Batteries- If chewed can result in burns to the mouth, tongue, esophagus and stomach.
  • Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.
  • Small decorations can be ingested and cause blockages.
  • Water with fertilizers -Christmas tree water can contain fertilizers or bacteria and cause some upset to the gastrointestinal tract.

4.) Common Items Which Could Cause Problems

  • Potpourris- Liquid Potpourris can cause severe damage to the mouth, skin and eyes.
  • Antifreeze- Can be used in toilets where freezing is a problem. If pets drink the water, Antifreeze is extremely toxic and will lead to kidney failure and death.
  • Rodenticides- Rodents are more common in the winter months and the use of rodenticide baits may lead to pets ingesting the bait. The most common baits area anti-coagulants and will cause lethargy, coughing, swellings and lameness, all secondary to bleeding and ultimately leading to death if not treated.
  • Keep all prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of pets, preferably in a closed cabinet.

5.) Who To Call? Keep the following contact information easily accessible:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4 ANI-HELP)  This is a 24/7 emergency hotline for pet owners and veterinarians. 
  • Your veterinarian
  • Local emergency veterinary service (ask your vet for who they recommend)

Knowing what weather to expect at home or when traveling will help you plan ahead. Will you or someone in your family need an umbrella, ice scraper, or extra jacket? You can get your daily weather in a number of places and should have more than to rely on.

Travel is high this time of year, but being safe and prepared for travel is a year round effort. Recent travel notices remind travelers to

  • Stay alert to and report suspicious activity
  • Notify family and friends of travel plans (departure and arrival)
  • Ensure friends and family members have a way to reach you in case of emergency
  • Give yourself extra time as there may be additional screenings and/or delays

Many of us will stay in a hotel at some point in the coming year. Use these safety tips to help protect yourself during your next overnight stay.

1.) Put Your Essentials By Your Bed
At night, place your room key, small flashlight, pair of shoes, cell phone and your wallet close to the bed. If there’s an alarm, emergency or the electricity goes out, you’ll have the light you need to navigate an unfamiliar building and your essentials.

2.) Ask for two business cards with the hotel name and address.
Place one by the phone in your room. If there is an emergency, and you call for help, you’ll have the name and address of your location. Place the other in your pocket or purse. If you have to take a cab or get lost, you can show the driver your location and avoid being taken to the wrong hotel.

3.) Determine Your Escape Route
Upon arriving at your room, immediately identify a fire escape route (should be a map on the back of the door). Check the location of the nearest stairwell and/or emergency exit (elevators should be avoided during a fire) and figure out a couple of potential plans for escape in case the hallway is blocked in one direction or another.

4.) Count The Doors
Take the time to not only find the exits, but also count the number of doors between your room and the exit. Make sure the exits are unlocked. If they are locked, report it to management right away.

5.) Report Suspicious Behavior
Immediately report behavior or actions of a suspicious nature to hotel staff.

6.) Stay Visible
When returning to your hotel/motel, remain aware of your surroundings, stay in well-lighted areas, and use the main entrance if possible.

7.) Identify Your Severe Weather Shelter
If severe weather is anticipated ask the front desk about their severe weather plan and if there is a designated shelter. Time yourself to see how long it takes for you to get to the shelter, if available.

In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
  • Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
  • Water for each person and pet in your car
  • Identify a local AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

Also consider:

  • A phone charger
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child

Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full and if you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.

*Excerpt from