Child with earmuffsBe prepared for winter weather: snow, sleet, freezing rain and sometimes high gusty winds. Be sure your family is safe by keeping them warm inside the house as well as outside in the elements. Read our tips for snow removal and general cold weather safety.

Be prepared - put a "Go Bag" together ahead of time
Being prepared means putting a kit together, developing a plan and during emergencies, staying informed. Being prepared means knowing what you should do in all kinds of severe weather -- before it arrives. And with hurricane season approaching, be sure your family is ready to take action if necessary.

Review your family's evacuation plans and update your "Go Bag." The elderly and others with special needs may require special assistance. Be sure you have planned ahead for them too. High winds and torrential rains can create havoc, so be prepared and follow simple precautions when severe weather hits.

Special Needs Registry
If you, or someone you know, might require additional assistance to leave home during an emergency, consider registering with the Special Needs Registry. The registry is for individuals with physical or mental disabilities who live on their own. The database will be shared with local municipalities to use in their emergency planning efforts.

This hospital listing provides a convenient list of phone numbers and links to local hospitals in order to keep your family safe.

Of course, keeping Westchester safe requires the cooperative efforts of several departments, including Public Safety, Emergency Services, Correction and Probation. Whether it's severe weather or Indian Point, government officials have developed plans and practices to deal with emergencies.

New studies show that drivers overestimate their ability to multitask behind the wheel. Try your hand at the "Gauging Your Distraction" game as featured in a series of articles, Driven to Distraction, in the Technology Section of the New York Times Web site. This game measures how your reaction time is affected by external distractions. Regardless of your results, bottom line is that you should not text when driving.

While texting is a great way to communicate with family and friends, it's dangerous to do while you're driving -- and, it's against the law. Under Westchester’s law, motorists can be fined up to $150 if convicted of texting while driving although no points are assessed to a violator’s license. So play it safe: When you're behind the wheel driving, put your cellphone away.

In the home
It's also important to be prepared for emergencies inside and outside of the home. Learn what you can do to prevent fires and what to do if the power goes out. House fires can be deadly. If your smoke detector sounds or a fire breaks out in your home, take action quickly by calling 9-1-1 or your local fire department.  Read our fire prevention tips and share them with your family.

If you were forced to leave your home quickly due to flooding, you should have a go bag and a family emergency plan prepared in advance if a sudden emergency arose.

The county has adopted the Code Adam child-finding system in all of its parks and county facilities. The county has also been at the forefront of efforts to fight bullying in general and cyberbullying in particular. Other programs are aimed at stopping drunk-driving and underage drinking.

Sign-up for online alerts
Westchester County can also notify you in case of a major emergency. Sign up to receive emergency notification by e-mail or cell phone.

Remember: If you have a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1