How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

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Haver you ever been caught in a winter storm without power? Were you comforable? Did you vow to prepare better next time, but forget to do anything about it?

With the increase in weather-related disasters (and yes, it’s not your imagination, they are increasing), it’s time to be smart about how you prepare.

It’s best to prepare before the winter season and always have good emergency supplies and procedures on hand, at least enough to get you by if your power goes out for a week or so.

You may think of your home as a warm, safe haven, but in the event of a winter storm if the power goes out, it may be harder than you expect to stay warm if you don’t have preparations in place.

Being stranded in your car is a whole other scenario. Yesterday, I-95 was at a standstill for 24 hours straight and the temperatures dropped down to the 20’s. Imagine being on the highway without food, water, and warm enough clothing and possibly running your gasoline down to zero. That’s a scenario that would be no problem with a little planning ahead of time.

YOUR AT HOME EMERGENCY KIT

  • An emergency plan clearly written out with phone numbers and a list of supplies written out (so you know when items need to be replaced).
  • Water – At least 1 gallon per person per day for drinking purposes. I advocate at least 1 weeks worth because my power was out once for a week and remember, when the power goes out, your water supply does too unless you’re off-grid. Three days worth of water will get you though most disasters. If you plan to use this water for bathing and cooking, you’ll need at least 3 gallons per person per day.
  • Food – At least 3 days’ worth of nonperishable food that doesn’t require cooking (Energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, energy drinks, etc). Don’t underestimate your need for fuel to keep your energy and mood up if your stranded at home with downed trees to move off your driveway.
  • Flashlights – with extra batteries, preferably not left inside for long periods of time because they will corrode. I keep fresh batteries outside of flashlights.
  • Solar Powered Camping Lanterns – I LOVE these. They are very easy to use and so easy to keep charged. No need to deal with old, corroding batteries and wondering how to dispose of them humanely.
  • First Aid Kit – Restocked as needed.
  • Cellphones with chargers. You can buy solar powered camping lanterns that will charge your cellphone.
  • Copies of keys and personal documents.
  • Battery powered or a hand crank radio. A NOAA Weather Radio is a great choice.
  • Extra diapers, baby formula, baby food, etc. as needed.
  • Pet food, bowls, crates, leashes, etc.
  • Local, paper maps.
  • Considering buying a generator or having solar panels that work as a backup electrical system.
  • A whistle.
  • If you have a wood stove, enough wood to keep your stove going.
  • If you have a gas stove, don’t let it drop before 25% before refilling it.

YOUR EMERGENCY KIT IN YOUR CAR

  • An emergency plan clearly written out with phone numbers and a list of supplies written out (so you know when you need to replace items).
  • Water – At least enough water to last 24 hours with how many people you have in the car. The one gallon per person per day is a good rule of thumb.
  • Hand sterilizing wipes – These are great anyway, but you can conserve water by using these instead.
  • Food – At least 1 days worth.
  • Flashlight – One or two, with extra batteries.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Warm blankets, one per person. I like regular, fleece blankets plus having some small folded emergency blankets as well.
  • Emergency ponchos.
  • Cellphones and charges. A backup, pay by the minute phone is a good idea in case you had to leave your home in a hurry in the event of a flood or fire.
  • Extra diapers, baby formula, baby food, etc. as needed.
  • A multitool or knife.
  • A shovel in case you need to dig yourself out of mud, snow, or ice.
  • Local, paper maps.
  • A whistle.

I don’t necessary keep my kits up to date at all times, but with the increase in disasters over the last few years, it’s time all of us step up and do a better job. It’s also important to not let your gas tank drop below 25% and refuel at the start of your trip if traveling in the snow or ice – though if it’s bad enough, staying home is obviously the smart choice.

A FEW OTHER NOTES

Be sure to conserver energy during a disaster and stay calm. If you need to remove trees or shovel snow, take breaks and don’t push yourself to hard. Slipping on ice is a common way people break bones in the winter. Also, the leading cause of death in the winter is from shoveling snow.

It’s a good idea to lower the temperature of your fridge and freezer as low as it can go before a storm comes.

If your power goes out, it’s a good idea to keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as you can. An unopened fridge can keep food cold for as long as 4 hours. The food in a freezer will last 24 hours is half full, 48 hours if completely full. You can also pack your fridge and freezer with ice and snow from the outside during a winter storm or load everything into a cooler and stick it outside, either in your garage or all the way outside depending on the temperature.

AFTER THE STORM

Never taste food to see if it’s gone back. When it doubt, throw it out.

Throw out perishable food in your fridge after 4 hours without power or ice/snow. Throw out any food with an unusual odor, color, or texture. If your freezer is still at 40 °F or below, you can safely refreeze or cook thaw it.

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