Sunday, February 7, 2010

What to do If It Snows

So, much of the east coast got a humdinger of a snow storm this weekend and even for Buffalo, this would have been a very big snow storm. We can deal with it. But having lived in Maryland for a couple of years and having a daughter in West Virginia, I know that it is not something they have to deal with or are at all prepared to deal with.

Here are a couple of granddaughters with a friend enjoying the snow in West Virginia. They loved it. A LOT of snow.

I was amused at a comment in the Washington Post by a resident of Alabama, who was pooh poohing the laments about dealing with the storm and admonished people to come and live where it doesn't snow, as he does. Serious weather events can occur wherever you live. Hurricanes in Florida, fires and mudslides in California, tornadoes, floods, ice storms, bad weather that can happen just about anywhere. The best thing you can do is to be prepared for the possibilities of no electricity and not being able to leave your house for a few days.

Here are a few of the things I have learned to do to be as prepared as I can be for a weather event. You may want to adapt these to the conditions you may face in your area.

Snow Equipment

In early fall we look over our collection of snow shovels, salt for ice removal, when we had a snow blower we would have that serviced. They get moved from the shed to the garage, handy by the door. Our furnace and fireplace get a once over in the fall, also. I got a kick out of the pictures of long lines of people lined up to buy snow shovels. Must admit that happens here, too. Winter, snow, need snow shovels!

No Electricity

We have had a couple of ice and wind storms that knocked out the electricity for a week or more. I have a shelf in my pantry I use exclusively for alternative sources of light. I check the flashlights and replace their batteries and bulbs in the fall. I replace any candles that have been used up and have a supply of matches handy. We found that the solar lights we have in the back yard (they are lantern types that hook on poles) worked as night lights and guides on the stairs. We took them out in the morning to get re-powered for the night.

Our clock radio has saved us many times. We have two that have battery back ups. Make sure the battery is fresh and have a couple of extra handy. It is amazing how starved for news you are when the lights go off and how important it is to have a source for emergency information. There are solar powered and hand cranked emergency radios that would probably be a good investment.

We have an assortment of games, books, decks of cards to keep everyone busy. This is a great time for family games like Monopoly and Risk, which can take days to finish. I had a friend who would buy all the makings of a sweater in the fall and have it designated her "blizzard sweater" for working on when we were snowed in.

We have a good reliable water supply. But when it seems that we might lose power, I fill up the bath with water (to flush and wash with), fill up my two biggest pots and put them on the stove. I have kept the house warm many times by simmering the pots of water and it is a source of water if the supply is contaminated as happened during the October Surprise snow storm of 2006 (a Friday the 13th). You should have a supply of chlorine bleach to purify your water, if you can't boil it. You only need a few drops to purify a large quantity of water.

Again, my pantry serves us well. I have cans of veggies, canned tomatoes, soups, tuna and sardines stocked along with lots of beans, dry and canned. Nothing like a hearty bowl of three bean chili to warm you and keep you going in cold weather. Make sure you have a manual can opener if you normally use an electric one. I have a medium sized chest freezer and keep it supplied with a couple of 5lb bags of flour and some frozen bread dough along with a box or two of my favorite emergency supply, Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Complete Pancake mix. My girls laugh at me over this. But it has saved me a number of times and provided them with a meal or two when there were no more eggs or milk.

Be Safe
I am very conscious of open flames and use candles sparingly. Be careful of heating sources. It is better to go to a shelter, and the fire department, town government and Red Cross usually have them available during crisis, than to heat the house with jury-rigged alternatives.
If you haven't lifted anything heavier than a fork in years, have someone else shovel. Check on your neighbors.

Have Fun
Enjoy the time you have together, playing games, eating fresh baked bread or cookies, making a snow fort.

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