If you live in the south, you probably won’t have to worry about much of this, but if you ever intend on visiting some place that gets a lot of snow, you might want to continue reading.
Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, we get some pretty big storms sometimes and we never really know what’s coming until a few hours into the storm. Several years ago they called for just flurries in early October and we ended up slammed with close to a foot of snow. This caused a lot of chaos as no one was prepared for what Mother Nature was throwing at us. There were a bunch of accidents that caused the power to go out and in a panic schools were trying to get the busses off the roads and some roads were even shut down.
I learned my lesson the first year that happened to us. Without electric there was no way for me to cook, run water, flush my toilet, or turn on the heat. I also didn’t own a cell phone and had no way to contact my husband for help. So, I was stuck and so were my little people. Thankfully we only had to cuddle under blankets with our coats and hats on for about 3 hours, but it could have been much worse. There are things you can do now, before you find yourself in this predicament.
What can your family do to get prepared?
Have a communications plan with your family – There are many reasons why a family may not be together if a winter storm should hit. Make sure you know how to get in contact with everyone, where everyone is, where everyone is going and what you will all do as a family to make sure you get back together!
Take inventory of your preps – Make sure you have enough food, water, medical supplies, etc. to get you and your family through. Also, make sure you have enough water stored up to flush your toilet if needed.
Find an alternative source of heat – If you don’t already have another way to heat your home, now is the time to consider your options. Having a wood stove, coal stove, kerosene heater or a generator are your best options. The first year we were blind sided by our snow storm and had no power, we went out and bought a kerosene heater. We couldn’t put in any other option due to renting our home and this was the best option available to us at the time. Make sure you have enough fuel, wood or coal to heat your home so this doesn’t become an issue later. Just be sure to keep your heating sources in a safe place away from children, pets, clothing and furniture. A gate is a great way to do this.
Find an alternative cooking source – Although you can use your alternative heating sources for cooking, there are many alternatives out there for you to consider. Outdoor cooking grills, camping grills, solar ovens, even an open fire outside is okay and can be a lot of fun!
Lighting source – You really don’t want to be stumbling around in the dark and even I get a little weird when all of the power is out in the neighborhood, so I don’t blame my kids when they get scared too. Trust me, your home is going to get much darker than it is when you just turn the lights off to go to bed. Keeping flashlights and battery operated lanterns near by is a much safer alternative to keeping a candle lit unsupervised. Just make sure you have enough batteries or rechargeable batteries on hand. I would also keep candles on hand for use when an adult can keep an eye on it to save battery life.
Break out the heavy blankets and clothing – Even after a storm hits, the wind may be fierce which could knock out power. Icy roadways could cause accidents which can also take out the power. If you wake up in the middle of the night to no electric and you didn’t have your alternative heating source going, you could wake up freezing. Make sure you have heavier blankets on hand to cover up quick and don’t forget to cuddle!
Purchase a weather radio – Having an NOAA Weather Radio on hand will be an important item to have. You will be able to hear all the alerts and warnings for your area and you can receive advanced notifications from your local emergency departments.
Winterize your home – It’s never too late to think about doing what you can to keep your home warmer in the winter. Although you may not want to have insulation done in the dead of winter, it can be put on your to-do list. You can also put plastic on your windows, caulk around your windows, and put weather-stripping around your doors and windows as well. If all else fails, and you weren’t able to do this, a blanket or even a towel put behind your doors will keep the heat in.
Make sure you have a fire extinguisher – Using an alternative heating source can pose a fire risk. Make sure you keep you fire extinguisher handy and that everyone in your home knows how to use it.
Entertainment – Without power, there will be no television, computer, video games and eventually your phone will die because you won’t have a way to charge it if you don’t own a solar-powered charger. Make sure you have board games, card games, books (both reading and activity), crafts, and special toys for the kiddos on hand to keep everyone occupied!
Snow storms can be beautiful and feel magical. It’s why I live where I do, I love to sit at home and watch the snow fall through my kitchen window. I still get giddy and excited when I know a big storm is coming and I love to watch the kids play in it. But I also know that there is an ugly side to winter storms. Being prepared can keep everyone safe and comfortable during what could be a life-threatening time.