Monday, December 17, 2012
Preparing for Winter Storms
For anyone who watches the Weather Channel, you will now be aware that winter storms now have names, just like hurricanes. They have adopted this practice in an attempt to make people pay more attention to winter storms in the hopes that people will be better prepared for them when they come.
Blizzards and winter storms are exactly one of those disasters that anyone in a place that can get snow should be prepared for. It can cause all sort of problems that we should be prepared to deal with. This includes everything from car accidents to power outages. So how should you be prepared?
Before Winter Weather
You can't just prepare once weather hits, you have to be prepared before hand otherwise at best you'll just join the lines of other people buying bottled water and canned food at the store. At the worse you're going to find yourself stuck some place with little to no supplies, no power, no heat, and in real trouble.
Before the weather hits you first want to have at least three days of water and food for each person in your household. If you are in a remote area where it may take longer for you to be reached, you will want to have even more supplies. You will want extra medicines and baby supplies as well.
Along with food and water you are going to want to make sure that you have adequate warm food and blankets. In the event that you lose power you will also want also candles, flashlights and extra batteries. Having something like a small camping stove may not be a bad idea either. This gives you the ability to cook things like a can of soup even if you don't have power and can't use the stove or microwave.
Other items that you will likely want to make sure you have around are rock salt, and sand. Rock salt will help you melt ice on sidewalks and your driveway, and will help make outside surfaces around your house much safer. However below ten degrees the salt will be useless by itself. If your rock salt is mixed with calcium chloride it should continue to work well below zero. However if your rock salt is not working, this is when you can start using sand. Sand can be spread across surfaces to help with traction.
Other than sand and rock salt you should have snow shovels and snow removal equpiment. Seasoned wood can also be stocked up on if you have a wood fireplace or wood burning stove. A battery run weather radio is also a good idea to make sure you can get updates on the weather situation outside if you lose power. The only other thing to keep in mind before winter weather strikes is to make sure that your home and vechicle are winterized.
During Winter Weather
There are a number of things to keep in mind during winter weather, and the first of those is to minimize the time you spend outside travelling. During winter weather it is very easy to find yourself in a bad situation. Slippery roads can easily lead to car accidents, and a broken down car could leave you stranded. If you are stranded during winter weather, there is no guaruntee that you will be rescued anytime soon. Snow can obscure cars on the side of the road, and it can be hours or days before snows stop and roads are plowed and your car is discovered.
If you have to travel during winter weather, make sure you have a fully stocked vehicle kit with you. This can help you fix minor vehicle problems, such as a flat tire, and will give you some supplies to work with if you do end up stranded. These kits should obviously include some extra food and water, as well as extra clothes, blankets and perhaps other survival gear as well.
Having a distress flag to hang from a window or antenna is a good thing to have in your car as well. If possible keep lights on so it is easier to see you and your car. During winter weather, if you are stranded, you should stay with your car. It is very easy to get lost walking out into a blizzard and that will greatly increase your chances of never coming back. Once winter weather has passed you can venture from your car, but you will want to be careful. If you are going for help it is a good idea to have an idea of where you are going. It is also a good idea to try and get any supplies that you can take with you before you venture from the car, and you should make sure you have the ability to spend the night outside as well, even if you know that you have to walk a few hours.
At home you should be concious of how long you spend time outdoors, and be aware of the signs of hypothermia. If you are out shovelling snow make sure to take it easy. If you work too hard you can start to sweat, which will make it that much easier for frostbite and hypothermia to occur as that water cools off. In the winter a major cause of death is heart attacks, which is again another reason to take it easy when shoveling snow.
After Winter Weather
After winter weather has passed there are a couple of things you can do. The first thing to consider is what state your home is in, mainly whether or not you have power, and if you should stay or not. In the event that you will not be getting power for a while and you are not well prepared to be staying your home, you may want to look for disaster shelters. FEMA has a way to do this by sending a text message. You text shelter and then your zip code to 43362 to find the nearest shelter to your area.
In most cases however you should be fin at home. So at this point, if you haven't taken care of sidewalks and driveways, now is a good time to get those clear of snow and ice.
The final thing you can do after winter weather is over is to do an assessment of how your preperations fared. What would you do again, what things did you wish that you had? Make a list or chart to assess how well prepared you were for the disaster and what things you want to change or have ready for the next batch of winter weather. This will allow you to modify your preps so you can be better prepared next time.