With fall and winter sneaking up on us fast I thought it would be a good time to go over a few things to prepare for the coming cold and possible dangerous season. Winter can be just as dangerous as any natural disaster and there are a few things you should do to get prepared.
As always you should stock up on a few extra supplies such as food, water and an alternate heating source. I just got myself a cord of wood for the wood stove so me and the family will be nice and toasty this winter, with or without power. I would also recommend 2 weeks of food and water and any other supplies you think you need so if a big snow, ice or wind storm hits you got plenty to eat and drink. Now is the time to get prepared so don’t wait till the weather man says it’s on the way, you never know when Mother Nature will throw you a curve ball. Get yourself a good flashlight and battery operated radio too, and don’t forget to stock up on those batteries and emergency candles. These are all thing you should already have in a good Emergency Kit but if you don’t get yourself prepared now.
Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
•Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
•Sand to improve traction.
•Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
•Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
•Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
•Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
•Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
•Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
•Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
•Stay indoors during the storm.
•Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
•Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
•Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
•Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
•Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
•Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
•Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
•If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
•Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
•Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
•If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
•Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Winterize Your Home
This is very important; you need to make sure your home is ready for the coming cold weather and all the hazards that go with it.
•Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
•Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
•Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
•Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
•All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
•Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
•Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
•Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
•Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
Winterize Your Vehicle
This is also very important; nobody wants to get stuck anywhere out in the cold with a broken down car. This is not only frustrating but it is also dangerous in the right conditions. So check yourself or have a mechanic check the following items on your car if you’re not qualified:
•Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
•Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
•Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
•Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
•Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
•Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
•Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
•Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
•Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
•Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
•Install good winter tires – Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:
•windshield scraper and small broom
•battery powered radio
•extra hats, socks and mittens
•first aid kit with pocket knife
•tow chain or rope
•road salt and sand
•fluorescent distress flag
These lists are not all-inclusive but I think you get the idea and these items will get you started and definitely way more prepared that what you probably are right now. It’s time to start now and get it done so you will feel much more safe and secure when that first winter storm hits knowing you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you this winter. If you’re like me I like to start early and do a little bit at a time over the next few weeks instead of trying to get it all done in a weekend. So go get started!
The Survival Guy at thesurvivalplaceblog.com