There is something magical and fairy-tale like about snow that brings out the child in each of us. Snowman and angels on the ice, followed by a cup of hot cocoa wrapped in a warm blanket, might just be the definition of a perfect dream for most of us. But when the snow starts beating down hard and fast, knocking out electricity, bringing down trees, and makes stepping out of the house dangerous, it becomes more like a nightmare than a dream.
A mad rush to the hardware and grocery stores, a haphazard shopping list in hand, a day, sometimes hours before the storm hits. Overpaying for the emergency supplies, half of which we realize after the storm has passed weren’t not really essential. The key to surviving a blizzard isn’t just being prepared for the storm, it’s about being prepared for the clean-up that follows.
Here are some tips for your winter survival in a blizzard, when the white stuff blows your way next. So that you aren’t caught off guard by the chilly aftermath and can stay safe and warm.
- Always Prepared
The Boy Scouts have it right, one should be prepared for emergencies, in any form, at any time. You should have a three-day winter survival kit at the very least. Your survival kit should include non-perishable food items. Examples of non-perishable food items that you should always irrespective of weather conditions have stocked in your house include-
- Instant, freeze-dried soup, noodles, or oats
- Energy or Granola bars
- Canned fruit, vegetables, and tuna
- Shelf-stable milk
- Juice boxes
- Cereal or Muesli
- Instant coffee
- Crackers and/or Biscuits
Your winter survival kit should also have enough water to sustain you and your family for more than three days. Extreme cold is as dehydrating as heat. First aid supplies which include bandages, band-aid, medicines should always be kept at hand. Batteries, flashlights, candles are essentials that should also be adequately stored. Any medication that you think that you might need to combat the extreme cold along with supplies for your pet if you have one, is also essential. You won’t be able to just pop into the nearest store for a bag of kibble if you run out during the storm.
Keep warm clothes and blankets at hand to keep you warm and cozy. You will also need to stock up on rock salt beforehand, to melt the ice on your driveway or walkway once the storm has blown over.
- Lists, lists… and more lists
Unprecedented advances in technology in the past decade have ensured that everything is online now. However, when a blizzard hits, all of that readily available information and accessibility vanishes into thin air. The good old pen and paper are the only things that are sure to serve you well in such situations.
Make lists, not just for groceries and emergency supplies, but of any contact information you might need during or after the blizzard. Be sure to keep a list of the people you can/should contact in case of an unfortunate emergency. Your friends, family, office colleagues that you might need to reach out if something, God forbid, goes wrong. Keep their contact information at hand.
It will also be prudent to keep a list of the contact information of various emergency services like ambulances, pharmacies, power companies, etc., at hand. Ensure that all your emergency contacts have these lists as a part of their winter survival kit.
- Prevention is better than cure
Charge everything. Keep your cellphone, laptops fully charged. Also, ensure that there is a power backup for all your electronic devices. If you have a vehicle, a car, or a motorbike, make sure that it is in perfect condition. Make sure that the gas tank is full and that the car/motorbike is tuned for winter roads. Keep a winter survival kit in your car in case you get stranded in the storm or the blizzard brings traffic to a standstill. Drive cautiously and make sure that the tires do not skid on the snow-covered roads. Keep a snow shovel handy to remove any snow that might have formed around the vehicle.
- Stay in
Stay indoors and go outside only in case of emergencies. If you must go outdoors, wear loose-fitting, warm clothes with waterproof mittens, hats, and boots.
Make sure that your house is storm-proofed with weather-stripped windows and doors. Clean your air gutters and insulate the water and windpipes. Also, trim any branches or trees in your yard or neighborhood that could possibly fall on your house due to heavy snow or strong winds. In case of a power outage, make sure that the windows are covered with plastic sheets to keep the strong cold air out. Also, ensure that you don’t use a grill, oil, or gas-powered camp stove or heater indoors (enclosed spaces) as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If possible, install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. A fire extinguisher is also an essential piece of safety equipment to keep in the house, irrespective of the circumstances.
In case any of the pipes in the house freeze, remove the insulation within, open the faucets, and pour hot/warm water over the areas that are the most exposed to cold.
Make sure not to over-exert yourself when shoveling snow, if you have to do so. And be cautious of any signs of hypothermia or frostbite.
- Ask for help
If you start to lose feeling in your extremities, or experience disorientation, slurred speech, shivering, please seek help. Whether from the people in your house, or vicinity, or from the emergency services, seek the help that you need.
If your house/neighborhood losses power for an extended period of time, alert the relevant authorities. If you run out of emergency or grocery supplies or the weather turns unbearably cold, alter the authorities, and ask for help and shelter.
It might be prudent to invest in a battery-operated NOAA weather radio. It can help you keep a track of the blizzard with relevant updates on the changing conditions.