Winter weather is beautiful… and dangerous.
With cold weather settling in here in the Midwest, I can’t help but think back over the last few winters, and the winter storms we have had. We’ve lived in our home for nearly six years, and not one winter has passed where we haven’t lost power during a winter storm. We’ve been fortunate not to have to go without power for more than a few days. We have friends who have gone without power for weeks during winter storms.
There has not been a winter in our area without at least one winter storm in the past century! Winters are downright dangerous in the Midwest and the dangers aren’t just on the roadways. Winter storms, and resultant electrical outages, can turn your own home into a danger zone.
Which is why it is ALWAYS a good idea to be prepared BEFORE the storm hits. What can you do, before the storm, to be prepared?
- Become familiar with the terms used to identify winter weather hazards (i.e. winter storm watch vs. winter storm warning, ice storm warning, blizzard warning, frost/freeze warning, wind chill advisory, freezing rain, sleet, etc). I am forever getting mixed up on the difference between a watch and a warning. Fortunately, I have Hubs to remind me that a watch means the weather is possible, and a warning means it is impending.
- Create a Family Emergency Plan and make sure everyone is familiar with it. If your family is not together when a disaster hits, everyone needs to know how to contact one another, how to get back together, and what to do in case of emergency.
- Create an Emergency Kit for the Home.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio, or local weather station, for changing weather conditions. We have two NOAA weather radios. One in our bedroom, and one in the basement.
- Limit travel during inclement weather.
- When severe weather is threatened, bring animals indoors or to sheltered areas with fresh drinking water.
- Create a winter car kit including a first aid kit, windshield wipers, small broom, flashlight, batteries, blanket, spare radio, water, jumper cables, flares, and matches. Having water and emergency food storage in your vehicle can sustain you if you are stranded in inclement weather. Also consider keeping a small shovel, sand, rock salt, extra hats, socks, and mittens, and a fluorescent distress flag. I’ve always kept a few sets of hand and foot warmers in my winter car kits, as well.
- Learn how to shut off water valves in case of freezing pipes or a pipe bursts.
What to include in your Winter Emergency Kit for the Home:
- Rock salt- to melt ice on driveways and sidewalks
- Sand- to improve traction
- Snow shovels- to remove snow
- Alternative fuel supply- for heat dry, seasoned wood for the fireplace (or wood burning stove) or a generator. If using a fireplace or wood burning stove, make sure they function properly BEFORE you need them! Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, as winter fires can be devastating.
- Warm clothing, hats, gloves, blankets.
- NOAA Weather Radio, flashlight, and batteries
- Water- at least 72 hours worth for each family member.
- Nonperishable food- dried food is an excellent option, as it can be stored for a LONG time without fear of spoilage. If using canned food, be sure to include a can opener. In general, you should have a 72 hours supply of food for EACH family member. If you have infants, be sure to include formula and/or baby food as needed.
- Cash- if the power is out, ATM’s won’t work!!
We are working on our Family Emergency Plan.
Do you have one?