CLEVELAND — A strong winter storm system is expected to hit Northeast Ohio ahead of the holidays, and power companies are already preparing for potential issues.
AEP Ohio is currently monitoring the forecast and is ready to deploy crews to problem spots.
Their meteorologists are tracking the possibility of dangerously low temperatures, damaging winds and widespread power outages.
At this point, downed trees and power lines are the primary areas of concern.
Crews are on standby and ready to respond at a moment's notice.
However, road conditions and inclement weather could make it challenging to get to some locations. Patience is key.
AEP Ohio told News 5 everyone should consider talking with loved ones about alternative holiday plans, just in case.
In addition, check on elderly loved ones and neighbors. Make sure they have the necessary tools and medications on hand.
And don't forget about your pets. Make sure they have food and are in a warm sheltered area.
AEP stresses: do not wait until the last minute.
From flashlights and extra batteries to first-aid kids, radios and non-perishable foods — planning ahead is vital.
"The time to prepare is now. Make sure you prepare that emergency kit and you have a plan. And also, if the storm does come through and you're out of power, you report that. If you go outside your house, watch out for downed wires. You never know if a wire lying on the ground is energized or not. So if you see that, please call 911," said Matt Bennett, Operations Manager for AEP Ohio.
Bennett says to also make sure your devices are fully charged.
If you have a generator, check the manual and make sure you do not set it up inside your home. That is a major fire hazard.
Stay with News 5 for the latest updates.
Watch our Tuesday night update on the incoming winter storm: