To quote a top-rated show and book series, winter is coming and with it comes winter storms. Depending on their severity, these storms can damage or destroy houses, knock out power grids, freeze water pipes and generally make life difficult. If you’re worried about getting through a storm, here are some tips and tricks to help you weather the winter.
Restock Your Storm Supplies
Getting to the grocery store in the middle of a blizzard might be possible if you’ve got the right accessories for your car, but even if you get there, chances are it will be closed. Take the time to restock your storm supplies before the temperatures drop. Ideally, you want to try to get to the store well before the panic sets in and the shelves are emptied of essentials like milk, bread and nonperishables.
A good storm supply kit should include:
- Food: Nonperishables and things that can be prepared without the use of a microwave or oven are always good choices.
- Water: If your pipes freeze or municipal water supplies fail, you will need to have water for each person in your house. Plan on having a gallon per person per day stored, or a way to purify water collected in the form of rain, sleet or melted snow.
- Communication: Cellphones are only useful until the cell towers go out. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to the local NOAA station for weather alerts.
- First aid: Keep a fully stocked first-aid kit with your winter supplies.
- Lighting: Flashlights, candles, and oil or kerosene lanterns are all useful tools to keep your home lit even if the power goes out.
Anything you won’t be able to access during the storm easily should be kept in your winter storm kit. This includes things like pet or infant supplies, and any prescription medication you will need for the duration.
Keep the Lights On
If you’ve got an electrical heating system in your home, it can be hard to stay warm during a storm that knocks out the power. Consider purchasing a generator or two for your home to keep power to your lights, heat and other appliances like your refrigerator running during the storm.
Make sure you don’t wire your generators into your home’s electrical system. It might seem like a good idea instead of running extension cords from the generator, but it can create dangerous feedback in the local electrical grid that could harm or kill linemen trying to restore power after the storm has passed.
Brutally cold temperatures are one of the most dangerous things that accompany winter storms, so your primary focus should be staying warm. If you have a generator powering your home’s heater, keep it fueled. Also, keep your doors closed as much as possible. Every time you open the door to go outside, some heat leaks out — meaning your heater needs to work harder to keep the interior warm.
If you don’t have a generator and the power goes out, starting a fire in your fireplace can be a good alternative. Be careful and make sure your chimney isn’t obstructed by snow before you light a fire, or smoke and carbon monoxide could build up inside your home.
Be prepared to layer up with appropriate clothing if you don’t have heat. Again, keep the doors and windows closed. Your body heat will warm the room slowly, but only if you don’t open the door and let in cold air.
You can’t do much about winter storms other than being prepared for them. Restock your supplies before the storm hits and ride it out. Being ready is the best thing you can do survive a winter storm.