Last winter was one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record I the United States. Here in the Northeast the weather was just brutal. (In our school district alone, we exceeded the limit on snow days by a whopping nine days, taking away part of Spring Break and tacking on an extra week of school at the end of the year.) Well, rumor has it that we are about to embark on a winter that was even worse than last year.
Being prepared can make all the difference, and all it takes is a few simple steps to be prepared for emergencies such as natural disasters, weather emergencies or unexpected events. Regardless of where you live, knowing what to do before, during and after a weather-related incident is a vitally important. Just one in ten Americans is prepared to protect themselves, their families or homes in a natural disasters.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Stock up on perishable foods items that require refrigeration or freezing. It always confuses me when people run out to the store to buy milk and eggs right before a snow storm. Now, I truly understand the lure of baking when you are stuck at home. However, if you lose power for an extended period of time, those foods will no longer be safe to eat and you will lose out on the money you just spent at the supermarket.
WHAT TO DO NOW:
Stock up on shelf stable food items. We always keep extra granola bars and oatmeal for the kids, nuts (for me), and other fiber-rich, low-sugar food items that can stay fresh in the pantry which would keep us full for long periods of time. Since I am mush without my morning cup of Joe, I also keep instant coffee in the pantry so I can boil water and make coffee even without power. My new secret weapon is Milkman instant low fat dry milk. It comes in large, one quart packages and can be added to water to make milk. (It is a longtime favorite of campers and hikers.) It’s perfect for coffee junkies like myself for any day of the year, but especially to keep for emergencies. Not only can it be used for coffee, when combined with water it makes milk that can be used in cereal and other meals. It can even be used to make pudding and other instant milk recipes, so you can still cook and bake while stuck at home in a snow storm!
Have some bottled water available. In case your pipes freeze or your water can’t be used, have a few days worth of bottled water available for drinking, brushing teeth and boiling.
Stock up on emergency supplies . Here a few other items you might want to have on hand as we move into the winter months:
Flashlights and Lanterns – We have flashlights all over our house, and in both of our cars too. My kids feel safer knowing that there is a flashlight in both of their night tables just in case power goes out in the middle of the night. We also have one amazing lantern that can light up our entire downstairs for many hours.
Batteries – There always seems to be a run on batteries right before the first major snow storm. Why not stock up now? You can get large packs at outlet stores such as Costco.
Sleeping Bags – We like to make sure that everyone has a sleeping bag, in case we all end up in one room or if we lose power and have to stay at a friend’s house. Sleeping bags that are used for camping are generally warm enough for a home without power in winter, so they might be a worthy investment.
Shovels and Ice Melt – Again, people always seem to wait until right before the first storm to stock up on snow/ice removal supplies. Why not get them right now so you don’t risk the stores being out of stock when you need them?
Ply Board – If there is a gust of snowy wind that does damage to your windows or home, would you be able to fix it? After listening to my windows rattle throughout Hurricane Sandy, I swore that I would never be without pieces of wood should I need to board up windows on a moment’s notice.
Check with your children’s school or daycare provider to find out what emergency preparedness processes they have in place in case of an emergency or power outage during the school day. For example, how would the school reunify children with their parents? Who has access to the emergency contact information if the school’s computers go down?
WHAT TO DO IN WINTER:
Keep your electronics charged. If power goes out, this should keep you in touch with news reports. It will also keep you and your family busy for a while!
Keep your car’s gas tank somewhat filled. Again, if you should lose power, you can charge cell phones and other electronic items in your car. Last year I purchased an automotive surge protector with enough strength to power my laptop and our phones at the same time. This will also come in handy should you need to get to a safer location, especially if gas stations are closed.
Whether we like it or not, winter is on its way. Do you have any other winter preparedness tips to share? How do you stay ready for the winter months?
Disclosure: This post on winter preparedness is sponsored by Milkman instant low fat dry milk. To learn more about Milkman milk, go to http://milkmanmilk.com. All opinions and ideas in this post are 100% my own.