12 Basic Winter Storm Safe-at-Home Tips
Where I live, on the Gulf Islands on the south-west coast of Canada, we have experienced some extreme weather conditions this winter of 2018/2019; in December it was an insane windstorm that blew down so many trees and took out so many hydro poles and power lines, it had some of us out of power for a week-and-a-half or more, and currently we are in the midst of an intense snowstorm with snow that is pilig up over one, and in some places, two feet deep.
As a long time resident of this rural community, an islander for over 45 years, I have seen this kind of weather before, the kind that keep snowing and snowing for days on end and really starts to pile up...
...and it lasts for days and days, and some times longer. Most often, here on the otherwise mild, though wet coast, we get a light dusting, or a couple of inches of snow at most, and then it rains and/or warms up and it all melts away. But this kind of intense snow storm? Not often. But often enough to know that we need to be prepared for conditions to (possibly) worsen, before they improve.
People keep saying "But it's dry snow." Or, "But it's not windy." "The power should be fine." Right? Not so much. As the weather warms and the sun comes out, and the rains begin to rain down upon us again, this whole thing could, potentially, get a whole lot worse. Before it gets better.
This very beautiful, mystical almost magical snow can turn ugly and even dangerous really quite fast. One "warmer" day (above 0*) that causes a bit of a thaw, followed by below freezing temperatures (at night, usually) means much weightier snow and ice on already stressed trees, branches and wires.
It means snow or slush on our driveways and roads turning to ice, which then will take a lot longer to clear away with the sun and rain. And then, if it snows over top of that, even more dangerous conditions will be upon us. I don't mean to be all gloom and doom, but rather forewarned can be forearmed. Being prepared can make life go a bit easier in adverse conditions.
And, with snow and slush turning icy, it will be more challenging for road maintenance, hydro crews and safety vehicles to get anywhere, too. It may take days to restore power again, if conditions worsen and more power lines are downed. Please prepare proactively. We need to be ready for power outages. As "light and fluffy" as this pretty, dry snow seems, it is heavy when it piles up like this!
Here's a short checklist to help you be prepared:
1. -> Keep electronic devices charged always during a storm, so they are fully charged if you do lose power and need to make any emergency communications.
2. -> If you do not have alternative heat sources, have you thought about how you and your family will get to somewhere warm? Make an emergency plan BEFORE you find yourself in a stressful, hazardous situation.
3. -> If you lose water when the power goes out, proactively fill buckets, jugs, pots, bathtubs in preparation. Also, if you lose water, it's a great idea to keep up with dishes, laundry and baths or showers. It's better to go into a few days without running water clean, and it's soooo much easier to do dishes without needing to heat water by the kettle full. IF you have a source of heat for doing that. 4. -> You will do well to have, if it's not too cold to say hunkered in at home, a camp-stove and FULL propane/butane tanks at the ready on which you can boil water and cook rudimentary meals.
5. -> Keep candles and matches, flashlights and camp lanterns with fresh batteries close by. 6. -> Having a battery operated clock and radio is also a good idea for times like this.
7. -> Write emergency and other important contact info off your phones and computers onto paper. Numbers for appointments you may need to cancel in coming days. People in your neighbourhood you may need to call on or check in on. Any elderly or others with limited-mobility or otherwise potentially at risk neighbours.
8. -> If you think the power may go, it's a great idea to cook foods that need cooking that you could later eat cold, if need be.
9. -> Use food out of your freezer, in case the powers out for so long that you might lose it. (24 hours for a fridge freezer; 48 hours for a chest freezer)
10. -> If you NEED supplies - necessities, medications - make sure you ONLY venture out in a 4x4 (with chains) and a driver who knows what they are doing.
11. ->Scrape, brush or shovel the snow off of any structures that you can safely reach and manage that cannot handle the weight of saturated snow. Snow weighs about 20lbs per cubic foot, apparently.
12. -> Once you are able to drive, make sure you clear the exhaust pipe of snow/ice before warming up the car. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a real and potentially extremely dangerous issue in these conditions.
13. -> BONUS TRACK -> -> STAY HOME if at all possible! And if it is safe to do so. And do your best to ENJOY the slowing down of life that Nature sometimes dishes out to us!
Stay safe. And warm. And please, share this post!