Winter storms have been in full swing the past few days, with another wave scheduled for later this week. Winter storms bring not only snow, but also extreme cold, high winds, freezing rain and ice. They can cause significant damage, causing power outages for days.
This past winter storm rolled through leaving millions of people without power and unprepared. While there is nothing that can be done about the last storm, we can be prepared for the next one.
Stock Your Food Pantry
Because it is important to avoid any traveling and stay home during a winter storm, it is really important to make sure that you are fully stocked up on food. Good foods to have on hand before a storm starts are crackers, granola bars, canned soup, canned meats and vegetables, trail mix and dried fruits. Some fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated such as apples and bananas are also good to have in the house.
Try to have enough food to last at least 3 days.
Stock Up On Water
Make sure you have plenty of water in case you have no access to tap water. If you have no access to tap water, you will need water for brushing your teeth, doing dishes, flushing toilets or bathing. Having plenty of bottled water is great, but you can also fill up the bathtub, jugs and other containers ahead of the storm.
Try to have a minimum of 3 gallons of water for each person in your household – pets included!
Get Fully Charged
Charge all devices such as your laptop and cellphone. If you face a power outage, you will have no way to charge your devices. It is also a good idea to have a portable power bank. They are an affordable way to give your phone a boost if needed.
Fill your Prescriptions and Hygiene Products
Ensure that you have all your medication prescriptions filled so that you have enough on hand for a week to be on the safe side. You do not want to be venturing out to the pharmacy if the roads are bad.
You will also want to stock up on any hygiene items that you might need. It may be beneficial to have some moist toilettes in case your access to water is limited.
Ready Your Car
Before the storm hits, make sure to check things in your car such as your antifreeze levels, battery, lights and oil. Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to fill your car up with gas just in case.
Prepare for a Power Blackout
If the power does go out, it isn’t a bad idea to have flashlights or battery-powered lights handy throughout the house. You will want to have extra batteries on hand and ensure anything that needs to be charged, is fully charged and ready to go.
If you live in an area where power outages are more likely to occur, it might be a good idea to have a generator. If you do have one, make sure you have gasoline or propane before the storm, so you can run it if needed without having to leave the home to get anything more.
Prepare Your Yard
Before the storm is scheduled to hit, it might be a good idea to take a walk around your property and see if there are any tree branches that might be in a position to fall on your home or any power lines. If you can, you may want to trim those back to prevent as much damage as possible.
Also, mulching your gardens will protect plants from freezing.
Keep on top of your local weather alerts and warnings. Even if you are without power, you can use your phone to do this.
Do your research on what resources are available near by. Communities may have various warming stations, shelters, running water and even meal pick up spots for those who are in need during the storm. Know where these are if you need to leave your house in the event of an emergency.
Stay Safe and Be Careful
Stay indoors and off the roads, unless it is an emergency. Be careful not to overexert yourselves and keep an eye on your household and check on neighbors.
Be sure you know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Someone with hypothermia is also likely to have frostbite. The symptoms include drowsiness, loss of coordination, confusion, pale and cold skin, uncontrollable shivering, slowed breathing, slurred speech and exhaustion. If you detect any of these symptoms, ensure that the person is dry and wrap them in blankets getting them as warm as possible. Also, take their temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, you will need to get them to a doctor as soon as possible. If they have a loss of feeling and white, pale or waxy skin on the extremities such as their face, toes or fingers, get them to a doctor as soon as possible.