Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Safe and warm

If you’re planning to dash out for last-minute storm supplies, here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you have:

– a battery-operated flashlight

– a battery-operated radio

– lots of batteries!

– a good supply of the medicines you take every day, plus those you may need or want, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

– sand, salt or cat litter to thaw out icy walkways.

A food thermometer might be another good buy. If you lose power, the thermometer can tell you if your food has stayed cold enough  (under 40 degrees) to eat.

The CDC advises packing milk, meat, fish eggs and other spoilable foods into a cooler surrounded by ice if your power goes out.

Foods that are in the freezer, the CDC says, will stay safe for up to 24 hours in a half-full freezer, and 48 hours in a full one. Keep the fridge and freezer doors shut as much as possible.                                  And don’t forget, your back porch can be a great freezer in cold weather. I once worked at a place where the boss kept his beer cold all winter on the office balcony.

As for groceries, pick up things like canned tuna and peanut butter that provide lots of nutrients and won’t go bad. Fruit is also great to have on hand — apples and bananas, for instance, won’t go bad and will help you stay well. Nuts, crackers, dried fruit and canned vegetables are also good buys. I think it’s wise to also have some chocolate.

Also stock up on water. When I lived in Florida, we kept jugs of water on hand during hurricane season. We were also taught to fill our bathtubs when a storm was coming. If the water supply was compromised, we’d have our own stash for drinking and for flushing the toilet.

It’s no different here now. Friends in Caroline County who lost their water supply over the weekend were grateful they’d stocked up. You would be, too.

Other tips from the CDC:

– Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by using generators, grills and other gas- propane- and charcoal-burning devices outside only. Don’t use them in your home, garage or carport, or near your windows.

– Dress in layers to stay warm, and wear a hat if your heat goes out. You can start suffering hypothermia when the indoor temperature drops below 60. Speaking from experience, it takes only a few heat-less hours for the temperature to drop below 60.

If you venture out during a storm and get stranded in your car, stay with it “unless safety is no more than 100 yards away,” the CDC advises.

If you’re stuck, run the engine and heater for only 10 minutes of every hour, and be sure the tailpipe isn’t blocked. Keep a “downwind” window cracked.

It’s wise to drive with an emergency kit containing blankets, non-perishable food, water, flares, a flashlight and sand or cat litter to help your wheels get traction. A well-charged cell phone can also come in handy.

Finally, as this next storm approaches, find your deck of cards. And checkers board. And  yoga mat. Have a little fun. Get a little exercise. Spring’s 39 days away, but who’s counting?