How to Prepare for a Winter Storm
Winter storms have closed businesses, halted traffic and kept plenty of people indoors. Some winter storms have proved powerful enough to amass enough snow to close school for weeks on end, like the ice storm we endured in Maine in 1998 (resulting in LOTS of ice storm babies!!)
Let’s take a look at some of the top preparations for winter storms that will keep you and your loved ones warm and safe. The first step in preparing for a winter storm and potential week or two without power is to determine what your comfort levels are; for example are you the type of person that needs to shower every single day, or can you go several days?
Prepare For Winter Power Outages
Anyone who lives in or travels through parts of the country that receive even a moderate amount of snow should prepare for a cold winter night (or several) without power. Your preparation for a winter power outage has the potential to save your life. A storm should never catch you off guard. You should have a power generator, flashlights, batteries, blankets, water, candles, lighters, clean warm clothing, and enough non-perishable food to last a full week without power. Here is the complete guide to Emergency Disaster Kit contents.
Take into consideration what resources you have on hand, for instance, whether you have a gas or electric stove. Gas stoves can be used regardless of whether you have power, so cooking isn’t as difficult. Create a list of the essentials that you need such as water (hot and cold). Do you have a gas hot water heater that will fire regardless or a grill or other way to heat a pot of water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing?
Now that you know what you can cook with, you can prepare a weeks worth of meals to have on hand for emergencies.
Once you’ve developed a plan for the harsh winter, be ready to implement it. Have all of your supplies properly organized so that you don’t have to fumble around in the dark, looking for your emergency items. This can be as simple as placing the items in a rubbermaid tote and storing them in a closet, or placing them in a rubbermaid tote and storing it in a closet. Alternatively, you can create an emergency kit that is stored in plain sight by placing the items in a couple of totes, draping it with pretty material and placing plants on top to appear like a plant stand.
If you live in a colder climate heat is a necessity that shouldn’t be overlooked when preparing for outages. As soon as the power goes out, block off a room for the family to stay in together, such as the living room. Close off the other rooms completely by closing the doors, hanging blankets on the windows to add additional barriers to cold air that may find it’s way into the room. Place rolled towels at the bottoms of the doors to prevent cool or cold air from entering the room.
It’s much easier to heat a small area than a larger one. We’ve created an emergency flower pot heater for our bathroom to help take the chill off when using the restroom!
For longer than 24 hours, you’ll need to ensure you have a backup heat source such as an indoor safe propane or kerosene heater. These emergency heaters cost less than $100 and work very well for maintaining a comfortable temperature in a large room.
Do not attempt to bring a grill indoors for emergency heat as you’ll likely perish from carbon monoxide poisoning.
It’s a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector in the room that you deem the “emergency shelter room”. The main room that the family gathers in during the outage or storm. Many storm-related deaths are due to improper use of heat sources resulting in accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Now we’ve come to the nitty-gritty, the part no one likes to think about, Sanitation. If you know a storm is on the way and you have a bathtub you might want to consider filling it with water for cleaning, washing up and flushing the toilet.
However, some city sewer systems will not properly drain when the power is out. If you’re unable to flush the commode you might want to consider the bucket system, aka the camping toilet.
Keep plenty of waterless hand sanitizer readily available when water may be in short supply.
Communication Is Essential
Always keep your cell phone charged during the winter months just in case you lose power for an extended period of time and can’t recharge your phone. Your cell phone represents your lifeline to the outside world. If you own or manage a business, you should have all of your employees’ phone numbers on hand so that you can contact them immediately in the event that the business will be closed due to the inclement weather.
Even if you don’t run an organization and are a parent or a spouse, you should go to great lengths to communicate with your significant others that bad weather is on the way. Make sure that your loved ones have fully charged cellphones and that they leave them on 24/7.
Sometimes Staying Home Is The Best Decision
It is quite tempting to venture outdoors amidst the brutal conditions in order to get to work, get some exercise or relieve your cabin fever. Yet this is oftentimes a terrible mistake. A lot of trouble can be averted if people would simply stay indoors and wait out the worst of the winter storms. When the snow is piling up, the winds are whipping and the temperatures have sunk, it becomes awfully risky to go outside. Vehicles get stuck in the snow, accidents occur and plenty of businesses aren’t even open.
Anyone who manages or runs a business should recognize that requiring employees to show up to work during nasty snowstorms puts these people at risk. While the business might lose a half day or even a full day of productivity, shutting down just might save an employee’s life. The best business continuity plans have methods for employees to complete work while at home. This might not be possible for certain businesses like retail outlets, but it is realistic for a good number of other organizations.
The Moral of This Story: Prepare
The key to remaining warm, well-fed and comfortable during a winter storm is preparation. Snow, white outs, black ice, and freezing temperatures should never catch you off guard. Plan ahead for these nasty events in the warm months and you will have little to worry about once the temperatures dip.