How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

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by Nindo Mom on December 16, 2010

According to an article published on The New York Times website, The National Weather Service is strongly recommending that property owners and builders “clear rooftops, awnings, and overhangs of snow ASAP, to avoid potential collapses” before an impending ice storm hits New York early on Tuesday.

I first learned about how to prepare for a storm emergency during the seven years I worked for the external affairs department of one of the largest electric cooperatives in the United States. We considered it part of our responsibility, as a cooperative owned by those it served, to help our members prepare for any situation that could involve a temporary electricity outage.  Since leaving the cooperative, I’ve picked up more information along the way.

This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it contains lots of useful information. Let me know if you have additional suggestions, and I’ll consider adding them to the list!

Steps to Preparing for a Winter Storm

  • Keep on hand a selection of shovels (so all family members can help shovel), ice for the sidewalk, and ice scrapers for the cars.
  • Arrange a collection of flashlights and fresh batteries, in case you lose power. Candles can also be used, but can be a fire hazard–so use with caution.
  • Keep a selection of blankets and warm clothing readily available for all family members–including gloves, hats, and shoes. Sleeping bags and tents (for use indoors) are also an excellent idea.
  • Educate yourself about any temporary shelter facilities that may be available near where you live. Some places like schools, fire houses, or other public or community buildings may be quipped with power generators for use during emergencies that can be very useful if the weather is dangerously cold.
  • Keep a list of important phone numbers handy so that you don’t need to look any up in an emergency. Numbers to collect should include family, friends, neighbors, police, fire, and other community support services.
  • Maintain a supply of ready-to-eat foods (along with a can opener). Some good choices are canned fruit, ravioli, soups, deviled ham or tuna (and bread), nuts, ready-to-eat cereals, canned milk, bottled juices or 100 percent juice pouches, protein bars, peanut butter, crackers, Hormel non-perishable pillow packs of Turkey Peperoni, and fresh fruit. There are hundreds of choices–the idea is to choose foods that can be stored without refrigeration–at least until after they’re opened. If they need refrigeration after opening, just be sure that your family eats the contents in one sitting so it won’t go bad.
  • Keep on hand a batch of disposable plates, bowls, cups, flatware, and seal-able trash bags. Several gallons of fresh bottled water are also a must. (Remember, never try to use any kind of non-household approved grill indoors, because the fumes it gives off may be deadly)
  • Don’t forget to keep handy plenty of paper towels and toilet paper. You know what this last item is for… : )
  • If you have a fireplace or wood stove, make sure you have sufficient fuel on hand to make use of it, in case your main heat source for your home goes out.
  • Be sure all cell phones are fully charged. It’s also an excellent idea to keep a standard land-line connected, non-cordless phone available, if possible, because these don’t require electricity to operate–or cell towers, which can take damage during a storm.
  • Make sure the gas tanks in all household vehicles are filled before the storm arrives.
  • Keep some cash on hand. ATMs and credit card machines won’t work if the power goes out at a business.
  • Keep an emergency radio with battery backup so you’ll be able to listen to the news and weather in case of a power outage.
  • Be certain to have a supply of food and water for your pet, as well as your other family members. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  • Make sure to check in on elderly neighbors or family members well in advance of the storm hitting–they may need assistance in preparing for the storm.

Make a Little Time for Fun . . .

Arrange for some fun activities for your family to enjoy in the event of a power outage, or in case you are snowed in and can’t leave your home for a while. Some ideas might be board games, a deck of cards, books to read, a hook-latch rug kit, or possibly portable CD or DVD players. Remember, smaller children may be frightened if the power goes out–and everyone gets pretty antsy if they’re unable to leave the house for too long. So having something fun to do will help to distract from distraught feelings. And, it’s an unexpected opportunity to spend some quality time with family members. : )

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