Be Prepared For Winter Weather
Here are some things I learned from the Missouri ice storm of 2007 and recent blizzards:
- When shopping to stock up for a winter storm, be sure to buy cold-cuts (food that does not need to be cooked) - bread, lunch meat, hot dogs, tuna fish, etc. If the power goes out there is still edible food.
- Either buy or pour gallons of water. Save water in the hot water heater for when hot water is really, really needed. You may want a really quick shower after a few days of no power.
- If you have a generator, plug in an electric oil radiator and light. Have books and games available for entertainment. A small generator will run an oil heater, one lamp, and a small TV with VCR. Close off rooms that are not used - hang blankets in doorways where there is no door. Even at night, your body heat will keep you comfortable in a very cold room with blankets on your bed, socks on your feet and maybe even a beanie on your head.
- Try to go out (go hunting) every day to see what is available. Businesses try to make sure that extra propane, kerosene, etc. is coming in. Be there to get it when it does come in.
- Have matches and candles in a place where they are easily found. Candles and oil lamps provide light as well as a little heat. You may need to leave them on while you sleep, so keep them on a sturdy surface to stay safe. Jar candles are great as are oil lamps. Save the tapered and pillar candles for daytime.
This year, we had an extraordinarily large amount of snow - 18 inches in one day and night. Our driveway circles our house, so we figured we would be stuck for a day or two. We shoveled the driveway a little at a time until it was completely cleared.
By noella from Bolivar, MO
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging everyone to take preventive measures to ensure their safety and reduce the risk of winter storm damage to property.
Preparing Your Family
- Assemble a disaster supply kit. Store drinking water, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in the dark. Also include winter specific items such as rock salt, sand and other snow removal equipment.
- Prepare for the possibility that you will need to stay in your home for several days after a winter storm. Make sure that you have sufficient heating fuel as well as emergency heating equipment in case electricity is cut off.
- House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
- Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends and neighbors or employees.
- Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes and always refuel outside. Keep all heaters at least three feet from flammable objects.
- Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy, waterproof boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.
Preparing Your Car
- Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair. Winterize your car by checking your car battery, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashers, exhaust, heater, brakes, defroster and tires. Ensure that your car has adequate antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and oil and check regularly throughout the season.
- Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, water, snack food, extra hats and mittens, blanket, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares and fluorescent distress flag.
- If traveling by car during a winter weather advisory or winter storm watch, do so in daylight, don't travel alone, keep others informed of your schedule and route, and stay on main roads. Avoid driving during a winter storm warning or blizzard warning.
Preparing Your Home
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic, insulate walls and attics, and apply caulk and weather-stripping to doors and windows.
- Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
- Remove ice and snow from tree limbs, roof and other structures after the storm passes.
Winter Weather Terms
Know the terms used by weather forecasters so that you clearly understand the risk to your family and your community, including:
- Winter weather advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists;
- Winter storm watch - Be alert, a storm is possible;
- Winter storm warning - Take action, the storm is occurring or will soon occur in the area;
- Blizzard warning - Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill - seek refuge immediately;
- Frost/freeze warning - Below freezing temperatures are expected.
Winter Weather Preparedness Tips
Each person should carry some Stick matches - wrap with something like fishing line - and wrapped tightly with aluminum foil. Each item can be used for other situations in the countryside (al. foil can be used to wrap a fish for cooking) (09/19/2004)
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