FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Preparing for Mother Nature’s unexpected surprises can be difficult at times because the severity of a storm always varies. However, with the right preparation, you can be ready. If an unexpected winter storm rolled through your town, what would you do?<br /> <br /> During the recent polar vortex that affected more than two dozen states across the country, many communities were not prepared for the frigid temperatures, ice and snow. <br /> <br /> According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most significant issues that cripple communities during winter are a storm’s ability to affect power, heat and communication services for days at a time. For this reason, it is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.<br /> <br /> To prepare for the repercussions of a winter storm you should build an emergency kit with the following, suggested supplies:<br /> <br /> - Rock salt or an environmentally safe product to melt ice on walkways.<br /> - Sand to improve traction.<br /> - Ample heating fuel in case you become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources are unavailable. You should also store a good amount of dry wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.<br /> - Ensure you have a decent amount of warm clothing and blankets.<br /> <br /> Creating a family communications plan is another way to be prepared for unexpected cold weather. You and your family may not be together when a storm rolls in or a disaster strikes, so it is crucial to know how you will contact each other, how you will link back up, and what you will do in case of an emergency.<br /> <br /> During a winter storm or extreme temperatures, ensure you bring your pets inside. If you have other animals or livestock, it is important to move them into sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.<br /> <br /> Tune into a weather radio station or if available, your local news channels for critical information. Be alert to changing weather conditions in case they get worse. One significant factor that needs to be addressed is to minimize travel. Accidents occur more frequently during extreme weather conditions than any other time. If it is not a necessary trip to the emergency room, you should avoid the roads.<br /> <br /> At Fort Bragg, regardless of the weather conditions, the Womack Army Medical Center Emergency Room will continue operations.<br /> <br /> “The Womack Army Medical Center wants to provide as much access to care as possible. However, during inclement weather, we advise the community not to drive on the roads and wait to be seen by their primary care clinic, unless it is an absolute emergency,” said Marsha Lunt, emergency management, Womack Army Medical Center. “We don’t want you to endanger yourself or others by getting on the roads.”<br /> <br /> At some point in your life, you will encounter a winter storm. Help yourself out by preparing now before it happens. Take winter by storm and prepare.<br /> <br /> For more information on what to do in case of severe weather or natural disasters visit www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/ or www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/.