Winter can offer some of the most amazing displays of beauty this world has to offer. However, being caught off guard by her splendor could potentially lead to a precarious situation. With the arrival of winter comes the threat of blistery storms that require a few basic necessities and some precautionary measures to make the experience more of an inconvenience and less of an emergency. Preparation is the key to comfort and survival during this harsh yet inspiring time of the year.
At least one good snow shovel should be kept inside the home in case you need to dig yourself out. It may also be necessary to dig out your vehicle and perhaps an area for your pets to get to in the yard to relieve themselves.
This is a tool designated to clear rooftops of snow and ice dams.
In case of a power outage flashlights are a necessity.
Keep several packages of various sized batteries on hand in case of emergencies. Make sure you have the appropriate sized batteries for the flashlights in your household as well as for other required items. Check all batteries on a regular basis to make sure they are still in working condition.
Candles are an excellent light source but they must be handled and placed out with care. They are a fire hazard and must be treated accordingly. Candles must be kept out of the reach of young children and pets. Make sure candles are placed in an appropriate sized candle holder for safety reasons.
Kerosene or Oil Lamps
Kerosene and Oil Lamps can provide heat and light but like candles they must be handled and placed out with extreme caution. Kerosene and oil are highly flammable products so take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent safety hazards.
Keep a good supply of matches on hand as an ignition source.
Battery or Crank Powered Radio and/or Television
These items are an excellent source to keep up to date on severe weather alerts and emergency broadcasts.
Extra Supply of Prescription Medications
It is suggested that an extra one month supply of prescription medication for both pets and people be kept on hand at all times.
Mechanical Can Opener
In case of a power outage a mechanical can opener will aid in opening up canned food products.
Cell Phone with Portable Cell Phone Charger
Cell phones are necessary to call for help in case of an emergency and to check up on family and friends. A portable cell phone charger will help ensure your phone does not die on you when you need it most.
Water is essential for our survival. If water is shut off or there is a threat of contamination of the water supply you will need fresh water to sustain your family. Eating cold snow directly is dangerous as it poses a risk of hyperthermia and possible contamination. If power is out and you cannot heat water to kill off potential bacteria then having access to a safe water supply is essential. Water can be stored up to a year under the appropriate conditions. You can purchase bottled water or fill milk jugs with tap water and place in a cool, dark place. The general rule is 1 gallon of water per person per day. Keep the needs of your pets, the toilet, and washing in mind.
Rock Salt or Sand
These are helpful in de-icing walkways, sidewalks, and porches. Sand can help in providing traction for vehicles.
First Aid Kit
First aid kits should be constantly restocked with the necessary items. They should include items such as an assorted array of bandages in varying sizes, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, a blanket, cold and heat compresses, non-latex gloves, scissors, gauze pads, thermometer, tweezers, a bottle of alcohol or alcohol rubs, hydrogen peroxide, a mask that can be placed over the mouth and nose, a first aid manual, plastic baggies, and other items you feel are essential. Check with the Red Cross for additional items to be included in your first aid kit. Include a separate first aid for your pets. Check with your veterinarian for these specific items.
Keeping at least one weeks supply of non-perishable food items is recommended. A small amount of fresh, perishable items are a good idea as well in case of a power outage. This allows for a quick meal for the first day or two of the outage.
Gas Powered Camping Stove or Barbeque Grill
Make sure you have the necessary fuel items such as charcoal bricks, sternos, or propane tanks. Avoid using them indoors to prevent possible carbon monoxide poisoning or make sure to air out the confined area regularly.
To preserve perishable foods when the electricity goes out these items can be placed in coolers with snow or ice from outdoors.
Extra Supply of Necessary Items
These items can include baby formula, diapers, pet food, batteries, etc.
Have extra cans of gas or diesel on hand for snow blowers, vehicles, or other fuel-operated devices and machinery.
Extra Blankets and Sleeping Bags
These items are essential for comfort and warmth.
Extra Warm and Dry Clothing
In case you are unable to do laundry due to water being shut off or loss of electricity it is a good idea to have extra clean, dry clothing on hand. In some cases you may need to layer clothing to stay warm.
Keep all vehicles and appropriate machinery well maintained in case you need to use them during the storm. Emergency items should be stored in your car including booster cables, tow cables, extra blankets and clothing, first aid kit, emergency flares, etc.
Consider acquiring an alternative heat source during times of power outages. Generators, fireplaces, and wood stoves serve as excellent secondary heat sources during tough times. If freezing pipes are a concern consider insulating them or leaving them open slightly and allowing them to drip a bit to avoid this unfortunate situation.
Keeping entertainment items handy will help to prevent boredom and alleviate stress especially for young children. Battery powered video games, board games, books, and battery-powered televisions are all excellent investments to break up the monotony.
Be aware of the location of important shut off valves such as for water and gas in case of an emergency. Be aware of the conditions of others around you. Watch out for signs of frost bite, hypothermia, and distress. See the FEMA and Red Cross websites for further assistance on these matters.
When it comes to preparing for winter weather it is always a good idea to be well prepared. Taking the necessary precautionary measures will help to ensure that a severe weather outbreak will limit the chance of an unfortunate emergency situation. Keep yourself informed of impending severe weather. Enjoy the beauty of the season safely with family and friends.