Winter can be very unforgiving and a test of our preparedness plans. Are you ready for what winter might bring? This month our goals are designed to make sure that you and your family are prepared for Mother Nature’s worst.
Start with a family plan
Plan what you will do when a blizzard hits. What contingencies do you have if children are in school or a family member is out of town? Set up a method of communicating during a winter storm. Cell phones or landlines may be down for a while, so you may want to have a central place where you can all report in. A Family Plan template, like this one from Red Cross, will help you cover all those contingencies.
Winterize your house
Winterizing your house will not only help keep you safe and warm during a winter storm, but it will also help save money on your heating and energy bills. Add insulating curtains to windows, stop drafts at the bottom of doors with weather stripping or a door snake, caulk windows and doors. Get your furnace cleaned and inspected. The cost of a cleaning and inspection is nothing compared to the danger and hassle of a malfunctioning furnace.
Find a safe way to heat your home
Choose an alternate heat source that: (1) fits your budget, (2) fits the size of your house or apartment and (3) is safe for all occupants. A wood burning stove is a great backup, but is unfeasible for many. Some kerosene heaters may not be safe if you have small children or pets that could tip the heater over. Newer kerosene heaters have an automatic shut-off switch if it should get tipped over.
Stay safe! The biggest risk in using alternate heat sources is carbon monoxide and fire. Make sure your CO2 detector is working properly and has fresh batteries. If you are going to heat with wood, have a functioning fire extinguisher nearby.
Don’t be in the dark
You will want to have a source for light during an outage. Make sure all flashlights are working and have new batteries. Use candles or kerosene lamps only if you have a fire extinguisher and children know how to use them safely. Other light sources include lanterns that are battery-run, solar charged or wind-up.
You may also want to consider ways to recharge your cell phones, especially if you do not have a landline. There are several gadgets that will help you get through a power outage.
Feed body and mind
Extended or region-wide blizzards may make it impossible to get to the store for a few days, so you should always have a three-day supply of easy-to-eat food on hand. If you wait until the blizzard is on the horizon, you will have to face crowds and empty shelves at the grocery store.
Finally, consider having some low-tech entertainment on hand. A power outage can take its toll on nerves and children that are cooped up in a dark house may get a little stir crazy. Be prepared with board or card games,
craft projects or other fun activities to relieve tedium and anxiety.
Don’t let winter get the best of you
A winter storm can either be a stressful event or an exiting interruption to your schedule. It all depends on how well prepared you are.