It is pretty strange that with all of the talk of climate change we hear in the media, blizzards are almost completely ignored. Some scientists are linking global warming to the 2010 blizzards which engulfed the country in February of that year. The event was even dubbed “Snowmageddon” by the media.
Blizzards can be just as deadly as any other disaster and may put is in some incredibly difficult decision making predicaments if we run out of flood or if our limbs begin to freeze over. Having the right G.O.O.D.I.E Bag picked and packed for a blizzard may be even more important than in cases of other disaster events. Namely, blizzards make the common practice of evacuation impossible or at least, highly unlikely. If folks cannot travel, they cannot gain access to supplies. This makes blizzards the only disaster event which may erase your escape and evacuation options.
Here are ten general tips to keep in mind if you live in an area which is prone to blizzards:
1. Prepare for power outages and blocked roads
Winds, ice and snow tend to bring down power lines. Make sure that you have candles, matches or lighters, a battery operated radio, and emergency food supplies and tons of blankets. Think about where you’ll put candles to keep them lit and safe. Have plenty of food staples like powdered milk and protein bars. If your water supply depends on an electric pump, bottled water may be a good idea.
2. Staying warm when the power goes out may be a problem
Don’t think you’re immune if you don’t use electricity to heat your home. Many people don’t realize that their heating system depends on a boiler that is powered by electricity. Electric stoves and gas stoves that depend on electricity will be powerless if the storm knocks the lines down. Be prepared with alternative heat sources and plenty of blankets.
3. Traveling in a blizzard is just not a good idea
If you are on the road during a blizzard look for a hotel or motel nearby and stay off the road until driving conditions are safe again.
4. If you get stranded in your car during a bad snow storm be prepared with plenty of warm clothes and packaged snack foods.
It may seem sensible to leave the engine running to keep warm, but it isn’t. The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is high. Snow can block your exhaust pipe and fill the car with deadly fumes. Keeping one window open just a bit will help avoid this. If you keep the engine running you may run out of gas before the storm is over. A better idea is to run the engine in short bursts. Turn the engine on long to keep the car warm and then turn it off. Keep this routine up until the conditions are stable enough for you to get back on the road.
5. Designate a spot, in the hall closet, to keep a bag of warm clothes for each person in the household.
If the lights are out, it will be hard to find that really warm turtle neck or a pair of warm socks or gloves in the dark. Count on the power being out for at least a day or two and have some board games and a deck of cards on hand. Arts and crafts are always fun for the kids (especially if there isn’t any television to distract them) so make sure you have some of those supplies easily available.
6. Along with warm clothes and blankets, consider stocking your Blizzard Kit with the following:
Batteries, flash lights, battery operated radio, television, bottled water, toilet paper, nonperishable foods such as cereal or crackers, canned goods, a non-electric can opener, a small cooler, candles, prescription medicines and any over-the-counter remedies you use regularly; and if you have young infants or toddlers – diapers, baby wipes, formula, baby food.
7. Stock up on shovels and snow removal equipment before the snow storm.
You may also want to cover the windows and spaces around the doors to keep drafts at a minimum in the event the heat shuts off.
8. If you live in an area that gets bad storms regularly consider investing in an emergency generator.
Having an alternate source of power if the main lines go down can be a life saver.
9. A cellular phone is a ‘hot’ commodity for the snowbound.
If you have a cell phone, make sure it is charged and easy to find. Even if the phone and power lines go out you can get word out that you are stranded and need help.
10. Finally, STAY INSIDE.
However tempting it may be for kids to go out and make snow angels or play in the falling snow, use caution. Those blowing winds – both before and after a blizzard – are cold enough to cause frostbite, and snowdrifts may hide dangers children might otherwise see. Stay indoors where it’s safe, and warm!