Uh oh. The evening news is showing ominous weather maps, the salt trucks are out and the supermarket is nearly empty of bread and milk. There's a winter storm coming, and you're in the path. The good news is you know it's coming, so there's time to get ready and avoid a tough situation turning into an at-home emergency. Here's where to start:
Prep Your House
Before the storm hits, gather these supplies:
- Three days of food and water (about a gallon per day) per person
- A week's worth of any medications your family needs
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Battery powered or hand-crank emergency weather radio
- Firewood if you have a wood-burning stove
- Working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Pet food and additional water if you have pets
- Board games, coloring books, playing cards, etc., so no one gets too stir crazy
Prep Your Vehicle
If at all possible, avoid the roads. They'll be messy and dangerous, with low visibility and possibly ice. Keep these items stocked in case you're ever caught in a snow storm. You'll need:
- A full tank of gas and high fluid levels
- A first aid kit
- One or more blankets
- Warm clothing, including gloves and socks
- Snacks and water
- A small shovel
- An ice scraper and brush
- Flares and a distress kit
After the Storm
Follow these tips to dig out safely:
- Keep your snow shovels, rock salt and sand easily accessible in the house or garage. They won't do you much good if you have to trek through the backyard in two feet of snow to get to the shed.
- Practice good shoveling technique. Don't hunch over; lift with your legs as much as you can, and push instead of throwing snow over your shoulder.
- Dress in layers, and change clothing when you start to sweat. Body temperature can go haywire when exerting yourself in cold weather.
- Recognize signs of frostbite: numbness and pale or white color on exposed skin, such as fingers, backs of hands, ears and nose
- Recognize signs of hypothermia: uncontrolled shivering, slurring of speech, disorientation, memory loss, exhaustion
- Keep hands and feet away from snow blowers, and always turn it off when performing maintenance like clearing ports or topping off the gas tank. Never start a snow blower in the garage; carbon monoxide exhaust in confined spaces can kill.
- Don't forget to clear the exhaust ports and pipes of your furnace, dryer, and sump pump.
- Be sure the tailpipe is clear of snow if anyone is sitting inside the car with the engine running.
More Winter Weather Safety Tips
- Make sure wood-burning stoves are vented to the outside.
- Keep fire extinguishers around the house and make sure everyone knows how to use them. Avoid using candles, as they can be a fire hazard.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture and window coverings, and don't let children or pets near them.
- Never use generators, grills or propane heaters indoors.
- If the power goes out, eat and drink; your body needs calories to produce heat.