But winter can also be extremely dangerous, especially when massive storms bring heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures to large areas of the country. For an example of this, look no further than the havoc created by winter storm Hercules in the Midwest and Northeast a few days ago.
If you live in a place that is vulnerable to fierce storms like Hercules, it’s critical that you maintain your home in a state of readiness so you can increase your chances of surviving whatever ordeal may come your way. Here are a few important tips for what to do before and during winter storms.
Before the storm
Make sure you have the following items on hand well before any big storm is predicted or announced by the weather service:
- Three-day supply of drinking water for each person in your household (to be calculated as one gallon per person per day)
- Three-day supply of MREs, energy bars, canned goods, or other easy-to-prepare, nonperishable food items
- Extra winter clothing for each person, including hats, coats, gloves, and boots
- Extra blankets
- Flashlights with fresh batteries
- First-aid kit and medications
- Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio for news updates and announcements
- Pet supplies and pet food, if necessary
- Alternative heating source, such as a wood-burning stove or fireplace (for safety reasons, avoid using gas or propane grills indoors)
- Cash for emergency purchases
During the storm
Once a major storm hits, take the following actions to ensure your family’s safety:
- Stay indoors as much as possible and avoid driving
- If your home loses power or becomes structurally unsound, go to the nearest public shelter
- Keep the thermostat set to at least 55 degrees–even overnight–to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting
- Bring pets inside or provide them with access to a sturdy shelter
- When going outdoors, guard against hypothermia by dressing in battery-heated clothing such as vests, jackets, and gloves
- As soon as conditions permit, check on elderly, disabled, or homebound individuals in your neighborhood
- In the event of a power outage, use your radio to keep aware of official information
Being prepared with the right supplies and knowing what to do when a major winter storm hits are the biggest keys to outwitting Mother Nature, so keep the above tips in mind and stay safe out there!