Winter Emergency Preparedness – Here’s Comes Suzy Snowflake!

It’s that time of year again!  Winter! It can be enjoyable with all the outdoor recreational opportunities it brings. It can also be dangerous when severe winter storms come roaring in bringing freezing temperatures, heavy snow, strong winds and poor visibility.

Snowstorms occur regularly every winter throughout the northern hemisphere. Although the first snowfall can cover the world in a beautiful blanket of sparkling white, as little as two inches (5 cm.) of snow is enough to create serious problems for traffic. (Of course children absolutely love it when a “snow day” occurs and they are forced to stay home.)

Blizzards, massive snowstorms with strong winds, make unplowed roads impassable and every winter many automobiles get stuck in the snow. Snowfalls exceeding 12 in. (30 cm.) can cave in roofs and cause the loss of power when lines are broken from the accumulation of snow. Trees can also be brought down by the weight of wet or very dense snow and winds can form drifts many feet high from only a few inches of falling snow.

A few minutes worth of preparation can go a long way toward keeping you and your loved ones safe and comfortable when winter rears its snowy head. Residents should keep emergency items on hand in their homes, including at least 3 – 4 weeks worth of drinking water and canned and/or dry food.

If there is a power outage:

  • Turn off appliances, tools and electronic equipment (protect sensitive electrical appliances with a surge-protected power bar)
  • Turn the thermostat(s) for the heating system down to minimum
  • Turn off lights (leave one on to indicate power is restored)
  • Only open the freezer or fridge when absolutely necessary
  • Never use barbecues, camping equipment, or home generators indoors – they give off carbon monoxide
  • Use proper candle holders, out of  reach of children. Never leave lit candles unattended – always extinguish candles before going to sleep
  • If power wires are damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters away and call your electric company
  • Listen to your radio for information on the outage and advice from local authorities 
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector in your home – a hard-wired one should have a battery-powered back-up

Motorists should avoid unnecessary travel. A break down or accident can be disastrous during harsh winter weather. If travel is unavoidable, always leave with a full tank of gas and a good set of winter tires. Be sure to listen for weather updates on local radio stations.

There are a few things you can do to prepare your car for winter:

  • Check the coolant for the proper mix of water and antifreeze
  • Check the oil recommendations in your car’s owner manual
  • Check the battery electrolyte level
  • Replace your windshield wiper blades with snow blades
  • Keep a snowbrush/ice scraper in the car
  • Run the air to speed up window defogging (run AC at least once/month)
  • Stock up on windshield washer fluid and top off the washer tank regularly
  • Buy good snow tires

A few inexpensive items kept in your car during winter months can increase safety and reduce misery. Your emergency kit should include items that will assist you to get help, stay safe, and keep warm.

A well-stocked emergency winter supply kit should contain:

  • 72-hour emergency kit with water and high energy, non-perishable food (chocolate bars are good, especially with nuts)
  • First aid kit
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Methyl hydrate (fuel line de-icing)
  • Shovel and tow rope
  • Bag of sand and/or salt (kitty litter also works)
  • Basic tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, pocket knife, adjustable wrench)
  • Compass
  • Hatchet or axe
  • Signal aids (flares, reflective triangle, distress sign, bright colored cloth)
  • Windshield scraper with brush
  • Extra window washer fluid and a 5 gallon tank of gas
  • Flashlight and extra batteries, or candles and matches/lighter (in a waterproof bag)
  • Crank radio (no batteries required)
  • Sleeping bags and/or blankets
  • Extra winter clothing – hats that cover the ears (30 – 40% body heat is lost through the head), scarves, mittens (warmer than gloves), warm socks, boots
  • Money (including telephone change )
  • Fully charged cell phone to call for assistance – have a power adapter, extra charged battery and car charger

Store your emergency kit in the trunk if it is accessible from the inside of the car. If not, consider carrying your emergency kit in a small duffel bag and storing it in the passenger’s footwell. This is easily accessed by the driver and won’t become a projectile in a collision.

Getting trapped in a blizzard on county roads seems plausible, but why do city drivers need an emergency kit? In a large metropolis a big snowstorm can block freeways and trap drivers. It could take several hours to get traffic flowing again. Having an emergency kit can make the difference between potentially fatal hypothermia and a long, boring but relatively comfortable wait.

Play it smart this winter. Be Prepared – Before Disaster Strikes!

Source by Lorrie Streeter

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