A Winter Storm Warning means that a winter storm is no longer just a possibility, but a certainty. While some winter storms are quite manageable in that they are a nuisance but not terribly disruptive – other winter storms have the potential to be completely debilitating to infrastructure and can impact your life significantly.
During a severe winter storm is the time when we often realize our dependence on systems of infrastructure – because this is the time we sometimes lose them…
Here’s what to do:
Particularly when heavy wet snow is forecast to significantly accumulate, or when icing is forecast to build up on surfaces, the best way to plan for the winter storm is to plan for a power outage. Expect it.
Not only are tree limbs susceptible to the heavy weight of snow or ice, they are especially vulnerable to collapse during the early winter season. These tree limbs haven’t been tested yet early in the season (to the extent of a major heavy load), and many more of them will fall during early winter snow storms. When these tree limbs (and trees) fall, some of them fall on power lines.
Weather forecasters don’t always get it right (surprised?), and sometimes these winter storms will blow up much bigger than expected. Power company backup crews are put in place before a winter storm – but if they’re not fully prepared for an unexpected turn of events, your power might not be restored for days.
BEFORE the winter storm, check you home heating fuel and be sure you’re not running near empty. Good luck getting a delivery during a raging snow storm.
If your power is out in the winter, your first priority might be heat. If you’re out for days, the temperature inside your house could get cold enough to begin rupturing water pipes as they freeze – causing major damage to say the least. You need to keep your house heated.
Have a wood stove? No problem. Pretty much all else will require electricity. If you’re a northerner in vulnerable regions, you probably already have a generator. The big thing here is you need to have enough gas to run it for several days. This might mean that you keep 20 gallons on hand – but safe storage is extremely important (not everyone has the capability to do this, so use your own judgement and understand your local fire laws in this regard). Bottom line here is to fuel up BEFORE the storm.
One more thing regarding the generator. Make sure that you have enough oil in it – and have extra on hand.
No electricity, no lights. Got fresh batteries for your flashlights that you might not have used for quite a while? You do have flashlights, right?
Awhile ago, I reviewed a particular LED lantern, which is an additional convenient source of light. I have a few of these such that they can simply be set on a table, etc..
A word of warning about candles… while they might seem all cozy and nice when the power goes out, they can also burn your house down right quick. If you’re going to use candles, don’t leave them unattended in another room – especially if you have kids.
Portable Radio – NOAA Weather Radio
Information. You need it to make better decisions. When the power is out, so is all of your conventional means of discovering what’s going on out there. An ordinary battery powered AM/FM radio will do just that. Do you have fresh batteries for it? I did a review on this remarkably inexpensive but effective Sony AM/FM pocket radio – which might fit the bill for you…
A weather radio. While you will receive updated weather information through your portable radio, a specific NOAA weather radio will provide official forecasts and warnings. I’ve reviewed quite a number of them over the years. Here’s a little more about NOAA weather radios.
Food and Water
This is so obvious, that I won’t go on about it – except to say that you should be sure to have some foods that don’t necessarily require cooking. It’s always a good idea to have jugs of water on standby too. The idea here is to not be one of those people rushing to the grocery store during the early onset and onslaught of the snow storm because you’ve just realized you have no food in the house…
Fuel Up The Gas Tank
BEFORE the storm, drive to the gas station and fill up your gas tank. While it’s always a good idea to be in the habit of keeping your gas tank closer to full than empty, you always want to be sure you’re fueled up prior to any storm. You just never know the extent of which you might be glad that you did. You could always use that extra fuel for your generator too – just siphon it out.
Baby in the house?
You don’t want to run out of diapers, formula, etc.. during a winter snow storm when you might be stranded for days. Enough said…
Getting the idea?
I could go on and on with examples of things to stock up on, but, you get the idea right? It’s just a matter of planning ahead for living on your own for a few days. It’s not the end of the world, but you might actually need to depend on yourself and your own supplies on hand for a short while ;)
So, for you winter snow storm veterans out there – what’s been your experiences?