Storm-Ready: Gather Your Winter Supplies
Last winter, we were hit by a doozey of a storm. The plows took three days to reach our area, and we were without power for 24 hours. Our nearest neighbors live a quarter of a mile down the road — a cute family with two children and a baby. Dad was away on business, so Mom was fending for herself when the storm hit. I worried about how she was doing in the storm, and gave her a call.
I shouldn’t have worried, though. My neighbor is one self-sufficient gal. She keeps enough food to sustain her family for three months in a basement pantry, along with water and candles. She also has a wood-burning stove and an ample supply of firewood. When I called her, she said she had closed off most of the house, and the children were having a great time playing games and roasting marshmallows by the wood fire.
As I hung up the phone, I reflected on her skill and wisdom as a mother, and determined to be a bit more prepared for the next storm myself. What could have been a serious problem for this young mom became an adventure in self-sufficiency.
As the old proverb says, “Better a thousand times careful, than one time dead.” Wishing you were a bit more self-sufficient, as well? Take some pointers from my neighbor:
- Stock up on basic supplies that don’t require refrigeration. Items such as canned soup, chili, and instant meals are easy to heat up using a sterno or propane stove. A chafing dish heats food quickly, but don’t use a propane stove indoors.
- Keep a supply of formula and diapers on hand if you have a baby in the house. You’ll also want to store at least 30 gallons of water. I store water in large, clean juice bottles.
- Store long-burning candles, flashlights and fresh batteries so you have light in the event of a power outage.
- Consider how you’ll keep your family warm if the heater stops running. A wood burning stove or fireplace is ideal, as long as you operate them safely. Do not use your grill, stove top or the oven to heat your home. Doing so can cause fires or introduce carbon monoxide gas into your home.
- Stay warm. It’s a lot easier to stay warm than to warm up after becoming chilled. Wear extra socks and sweaters and avoid going outdoors unless absolutely necessary. Keep doors and windows closed tight and place close off unused areas of the house.
- My Dad taught me to never let the gas gauge go below half-full—especially good advice during the winter when you may become stranded on icy roads, or refueling trucks can’t reach service stations. Keep rock salt, sand, flares, a flashlight, and a shovel in your trunk, as well as blankets, gloves, warm clothes, a first-aid kit, and food. I also keep a small envelope with important phone numbers of friends and family.
- Plan ahead and avoid driving during stormy weather. Most deaths that occur during severe winter storms are due to traffic accidents or hypothermia, as a result of becoming stranded on a roadside, according to FEMA.
- Make a communication plan with your family in the event that phone service is knocked out and you’re separated. Choose a pre-determined meeting place in the event of a disaster.
- Know where the water shut-off is in case a pipe freezes. Keep snow shovels and rock salt on hand to clear driveways and sidewalks. After a storm, as soon as it is safe, check your property for damage to the roof, trees or gutters. Remove heavy snow from tree branches to prevent further damage, but do so carefully.