Are You Ready Series: Extreme Winter Storms

It wasn’t so long ago that storms such as the 2011 Snowpocalypse or the 2012 winter Hurricane Sandy wreacked havoc on the U.S. east coast and midwest states and emphasized how important it was to be ready for extended disasters. It seems that winter storms are becoming more and more unpredictable, sometimes they are mild and sometimes they arrive in a violent fury.

Those that are unprepared to bug in for days on end will have a very difficult road ahead of them. With the average household only having 3 days of food in their homes, if they find themselves ill-equipped to ride out the storm or are snowed in due to a blizzard and cannot access food or other basic needs, then they are gambling with their life. When these basic needs are not met on a massive scale, society begins to break down. We saw this first hand during Hurricane Sandy when Staten Island residents were begging elected officials to help them. “We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!”

Have the Basics

No one is immune from inclement weather occurring in their communities. If you live in a highly populated area, understand that resources will diminish quickly, so preparing beforehand can circumvent this. Here is a list of supplies that disappear first.  You can always start out with the basic 10 preparedness items you will need to skirt through a disaster:

  1. Food and alternative ways of preparing food
  2. Water
  3. Fuel for generators, cooking stoves and mantels, charcoal for outdoor grills
  4. Batteries
  5. Generator
  6. Emergency lighting
  7. Seasonal clothing
  8. Medical supply
  9. Baby formula
  10. Sanitation supplies

Or, if you want a more comprehensive supply, take a look at the 52-Weeks to Preparedness series. To make matters worse, the grid could go down. In this case, having extra winter clothing layers on hand to maintain body heat could be a life saver.

In case I haven’t stressed the importance of preparing before a disaster is imminent, on Feburary 9, 2010 the Northeast was hit with a major snow storm; and this is what the store shelves looked like then.

grocery_run_4

Source

Checklists For Your Preparedness Needs

I have found that checklists are very helpful when preparing for these types of disasters. They help you visually see what you need and organize your supplies.

Family Based Survival Plan

Short Term Emergency List

Winterizing Your Home

Winter Items to Add to Your Vehicle 

Suggestions for Preparing for a Severe Winter Storm

  • Have an emergency plan in place with emergency contacts on alert in the case that a person needs to evacuate their home.  If damage to the home makes it uninhabitable, evacuate to a pre-planned friend or neighbor who may be near by.
  • Have some winter disaster supplies in the home such as: candles, matches/lighters, a battery operated radio, emergency food supplies, water, extra blankets, toilet paper, prescription medicines, over the counter medicines, a non-electric can opener, infant/baby needs if a child is in the home.
  • Be prepared for the power to go out.  Be prepared for this set back by having alternative power and heating sources to go along with the extra blankets.  Having an emergency generator with extra gasoline could be a life saver in this situation.
  • Avoid traveling in a blizzard.  If a person is on the road when a blizzard hits, look for a hotel nearby and stay off the road until there are better road conditions.
  • Have a 72 hour bag in the vehicle with lots of warm insulated clothing in the case that a person is stranded in their car during a blizzard. Additionally, having an extra supply of gasoline in the car would also be a good idea.
  • If a person is stranded in the car, do not leave the engine running to keep warm.  Snow can block the exhaust pipe and fill with the car with fumes, thus causing carbon monoxide poisoning.  Keep one window open just a bit to avoid this.  Run the car in short bursts to avoid running out of gas.  Turn the engine on long enough to keep the car warm and then turn it off.
  • Stock up on shovels and snow removal equipment prior to the storm.
  • Additionally, those who were not hit with the blinding snow flurries, but were effected by coastal water flooding, should read over guidelines for emergency flooding and know what to avoid.
  • Stay inside and stay warm!  The winds from this type of storm are going to be extremely dangerous.  Snow drift can be a problem after a storm of this magnitude.  Additionally, frostbite will be a major concern so a good rule of thumb is to keep everyone inside and warm until the threat is over.
  • If a person must go outside, they should use the layered principle when dressing for the outdoors.

Let’s hope that we have already learned the important lesson of preparing for disasters before a storm threatens the area. Stay warm and stay prepared!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 29th, 2012
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  • Misty

    Great article, Tess!

  • Thanks Misty.  Preparing for a snow hurricane has got to be a headache in itself.  Most of us are used to tropical hurricanes hitting the U.S. coast, but snow hurricanes are not as frequent.  Preparing for damage due to cold and icy conditions sounds unbearable.  Let’s hope that many have gotten their supplies ahead of time and do not have to go out of there homes until the threat has passed.

  • Extreme cold is something that few people are prepared for. We are so accoustomed to being protected from the environment that most cannot deal with nature’s raw reality. Two points I would suggest:
    1) if you loose heat in very cold conditions, understand that the building you are in will continue to get colder for about two days even if conditions do not worsen. Don’t let that scare you. The first thing you should do is to reduce your living space to one room with as few windows as possible. And then hang some sort of curtain over the doors for extra insulation. Prevent any moisture entering the room (wet boots or clothes). Be freindly, extra bodies mean extra warmth. One candle will provide light and will usually keep a 10 x 10 room above freezing.
    2) Stock foods with lots of calories and carbohydrates (no booze) Your internal furnace will keep you warm if you feed it and keep dry.

  • Wm Reich

    I went to the “FEMA” links your provided above for actions to take

    Before, During, After a Storm…

    Below in quotes is the page response..

    ” 404 Pages not found”

    Sometimes the jokes, Just make themselves up..

    • Tess

      Drat. I hate when they change up their urls. Sorry about that.

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