Snow Storm Emergency Preparedness Tips
By now, you’ve certainly seen, experienced, or read about the massive snow storms that have struck across the US. We’ve seen the photos of bare shelves at the grocery stores caused by a run on the supermarkets and the fact that the snow and ice has kept supplies from being brought in. This just goes to show how important it is to be prepared ahead of a storm.
Heavy snow and ice can cause power outages due to the weight of the snow and ice on tree limbs and power lines. To help make sure that you and your family aren’t caught unaware and unprepared just follow these tips.
Winterize Your Home And Car
Preferably when the winter begins one should make sure that the house and the vehicles are winter ready. For those in the north this might mean making an appointment for putting on your winter tires. You should check your antifreeze levels and fill your trunk with a small shovel (for digging out), some sand or cat litter (for traction) a blanket, and some food/water.
You should also prepare your home by checking your furnace (or other heat source) and ready some emergency water and ‘easy to eat’ foods. A battery powered radio and/or a hand crank radio is good to keep abreast of what’s going on in the outside world. If you have a fireplace, stock up on wood. If you have a pellet stove, stock up on bagged pellets.
Pay Attention To Weather Forecasts
The National Weather Center in Norman OK has a handle on predicting the weather and their feeds go to multiple news agencies around the US. That battery or hand cranked radio will help you stay abreast of what’s coming storm wise. Most of the time you’ll have ample warning to get stocked up on the basics so that you aren’t trying to ‘run to the store’ in the middle of a storm. You can even set up storm alerts on your phone so that you can be ready.
When a major blizzard is predicted and you don’t have to go to work then STAY HOME. There are only so many men/machines on the road crews trying to keep the roads clear. You do not want to get stuck in a blizzard in your car. Stay home if you can.
If you absolutely must go to work, make certain that you have a full tank of gas and that you have emergency supplies in the vehicle. This includes the aforementioned items but you’ll also want a heat source. Is your cell phone charged? Do you have a way to charge your phone if the car dies?
Stock Up On Food, Water And Heat Sources
It’s good to have some foods that don’t require cooking and can be eaten right out of the package. Store some Pop-tarts for the kids, crackers and canned fish, vienna sausages. If you have a heat source such as a fireplace or wood stove (or even gas/propane) you can heat up canned goods easily. (Does your gas stove require electricity to start?) Stock up on flashlights and candles (and matches). WAIT until the storm passes before attempting to clear stacked snow from the roof or drive. You don’t want to have an accident when it’s not possible for emergency crews to get to you.
Longer Power Outages
Have you ever been without power for more than a few hours? Most power outages around here are caused by a lightening strike, a car hitting an electrical pole,a tornado, or ice breaking the power lines. Most of the time the outages only last a few hours. One pole can be replaced pretty quickly, a mile of poles naturally takes longer. But what if the power was out for days? Or weeks? Have you thought about how you’d function?
Alternative Sources Of Power
Sure, you can prepare for a small outage with your backup heat source and canned food but you should consider adding an alternative method of power to your stores. Do you have a small power bank that can charge your cell phones or other small devices? Consider getting one and start to think about a whole home generator.
Longer Term Food Without Electricity
The food in your freezer will be fine for a short power outage. Just keep the opening to a minimum. If the power outage lasts you should begin to consume the foods from the refrigerator first, then the freezer. However, if it’s truly cold in the room where the freezer is you might even be ok for a while longer. You can even move your frozen foods to an ice chest and place outside. (Not advisable in bear country.)
Got an outside grill? If the blizzard’s over you can begin to cook on the grill. That is if you’ve stocked up on fuel. This could be different depending upon the type of grill you own. Gas powered? You’re probably ok as long as it doesn’t have an electronic ignition. Propane? Have you stocked up on filled canisters? Wood? Charcoal? Always use a grill OUTDOORS.
Staying Warm Without Power
So how do you keep warm? Of course you’ve updated your home insulation, right? Close your shutters, close your curtains and drapes and consider placing blankets over the windows and on any cold walls. You can even move everyone into one room to avoid trying to heat the whole house. Bundle up, wear layers, get out the sleeping bags and down comforters.
One winter after we first moved out here to the country there was a major ice storm which took out the power for days. Since we’d ‘just’ moved here we had not yet stocked up on wood for the fireplace and were forced to cut down a tree and haul it into the house in order to have some way to keep warm. We all bundled up around the fireplace, heated canned goods in the fireplace and played board games. We all survived and you will too with just a little forethought, planning and action.