The weather outside may be frightful, so you need to be prepared. Winter in New England often means storm systems that bring heavy snow and freezing winds. It means power may be lost, sometimes for extended periods of time, and roads may not be passable. A wise homeowner takes the time to prepare for these unpredictable events.
There are several things you should do when a nor’ easter, blizzard, or a storm with big snowfall or potential for high winds is heading your way. Here are five ways to prepare and stay safe
Plan how to stay warm.
Have extra blankets or sleeping bags at the ready. Decide which rooms need to be kept warm, and which can be temporarily closed off to conserve fuel. Plan ahead by having a generator installed to supply you enough power to run your furnace and fridge.
Stock up on essentials.
It is smart to stock up on must-haves like toilet paper, several large containers of clean water, and a three- to five-day supply of non-perishable foods before the storm begins. Have a mix of high-energy foods like dried fruit or candy; easy-to-eat items like bread, cereal or crackers; and canned food that doesn't require cooking. Make certain you have a non-electric can opener too. Other must-haves include an adequate supply of any required prescription medication, a first aid kit, and if you have a baby, baby food, formula (if needed), diapers and wipes.
Gather snow removal equipment and tools.
Make sure all your snow removal equipment and supplies are accessible and ready to use – like your snow shovels, rock salt to melt ice on walkways, and sand (or non-clumping kitty litter) to add traction. Check to make sure your snow blower is fueled up and in good working order if you have one. Stockpile extra batteries in various sizes, have a few battery-powered camping lanterns ready in case the power goes out, and have cell phone chargers easily accessible to keep all phones charged up (at least while the power stays on). Have a battery powered radio to stay updated on the latest news and weather conditions.
Some family members might be somewhere else when the storm hits, so make sure everyone knows how to contact each other. Emergency numbers should be posted at home and on file with daycare and school officials. Remember that often a text message can be sent even if you lack enough bars to make a phone call.
Know some tricks to preserve food during the storm.
If you lose power for an extended amount of time, you can save some of the food in your fridge by sticking it outside in the snow. The temperature has to remain low enough of course to properly preserve food like your refrigerator does. According to the FDA, keep refrigerated food at a temperature of 40 °F or below and frozen items at 0 °F. Depending on the weather, you run the risk of liquids actually freezing, but this trick buys you some time before the milk goes bad and the ice cream melts.
As a homeowner, it pays to plan ahead for big winter storms. Gathering enough supplies so your family could make it through several days, even if you lose power, can give you peace of mind in case winter weather takes a turn for the worst.