When extreme weather conditions strike, emergency experts stress that preparation is key to getting through the worst-case scenario.

Winter storms, like the ones sweeping across Arkansas and much of the United States right now, create an increased risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and even overwork-related heart attacks.

Freezing temperatures combined with snow and ice are expected to persist in Arkansas for the next few days. Experts advise people to stay at home.

People with young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities are more susceptible to cold-related adverse health effects.

HOME SAFETY

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends keeping up to date with local weather forecasts and conditions. FEMA suggests several preparations:

• Prepare your home for the cold with insulation, caulking and weatherstripping.

• Gather supplies in case you lose power, including medicine, groceries, flashlights, extra batteries and a radio for weather updates.

• Make sure phones and other devices are charged. Portable chargers can also be useful in the event of a power outage.

• In the event of a power outage, only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

• Dress warmly and limit time spent outdoors. Avoid overexertion when working outdoors or shoveling snow.

• Watch for signs of hypothermia (chills, exhaustion, confusion, loss of dexterity, memory loss, and slurred speech) or frostbite (numbness or white or grayish-yellow, unusually firm or waxy skin).

• Check the neighbors.

ON THE ROAD

If you must leave your home, the most important thing to remember is to drive slowly, giving your vehicle plenty of time to stop and pick up speed, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

• In case of an emergency, prepare a kit of supplies for your car that includes jumper cables, sand in case you get stuck, snow/ice scraper, flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, water and non-perishable food.

• Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of fuel, test your battery, and inspect the tires to make sure they are inflated and have proper tread.

• Always assume downed power lines are live and remain at least 35 feet away. Dial 911 to report any line down.

When driving in snow or ice, AAA advises going slowly and leaving early to give yourself plenty of time.

• Steer slowly and avoid stopping completely when possible.

• Do not tail other drivers and never use cruise control on slippery roads.

• If your vehicle begins to lose traction, steer against the skid by continuing to steer in the desired direction.

Learn more about winter weather in Arkansas

• Arkansas Schools Announce Weather-Related Closures »arkansasonline.com/23schools/

• Submit your Arkansas snow photos to be featured in our gallery »arkansasonline.com/23pics/

• Restaurants in Central Arkansas are closing due to winter weather » arkansasonline.com/23food/

• Take our winter safety quiz » arkansasonline.com/wintersafetyquiz/

ARDOT winter weather map » iddrivearkansas.com