It’s a little late for the in-depth preparedness that some families prefer, but for those of us caught in this snowpocalypse pelting the country with unusual snowy weather, you’re not out of luck. We have cold feet and blustery winds, but we can use some things we have on hand to make the most of this weird weather.
Remember Cold Weather Safety
Cold kills. It could be hypothermia, or carbon monoxide poisoning, or frostbite, or car wrecks, any number of other things. It is essential for your safety that you remember the basic safety of cold weather, regardless of how often you deal with it.
Stay Dry - Cold is uncomfortable. Cold and wet could be deadly. When your clothing is wet, your body can’t warm up until it’s dry again. The wetness soaks your body heat away from your core and drops you into the danger zone for hypothermia much faster than if you stayed dry. If you MUST go outside in cold weather, wear waterproof boots and clothing if at all possible.
Layer - Layers help hold heat close to your body. You can layer nearly every piece of your clothing to create insulation, but your outer extremities are most important: feet, hands. Your core must be kept cold, too; you can always warm your extremities against your body, so keeping your torso warm will benefit you.
Driving isn’t Safe for ANYONE in icy weather - Your truck may have 4-Wheel Drive or All Wheel Drive, but nothing stops on a dime on ice. Please slow down, give space, and tap on the brakes to slow instead of slamming on them. Slowing your momentum gradually works better in ice and snow.
My Power Went Out - What Now?
It’s going to get cold. Your house is likely built to maintain heat with your thermostat, but you don't have heat if there isn’t power.
Light and Heat - Gather candles and flashlights, make a note to restock after the weather passes. Even if you’ve only got a handful of tealights or votives, you can still get quite a lot of usable heat from them. There are plenty of other tips online for light and heat, including using an orange peel and oil, crayon candles, and lard candles.
Insulate - Hang blankets or bath towels around windows and large exterior walls to insulate and keep your heat inside. A typical house will lose 10-15% of its heat through its windows, even if they’re high-efficiency windows.
Cuddle Puddle - If the temps drop enough to be uncomfortable in bedrooms, gather the family into a single room, close off the rest of the home, and cuddle together for warmth. Layering your clothing and blankets will create a heat trap, and the closeness of your family will help you regulate temps for everyone.
Camping Gear to the Rescue
If you have access to your summer camping gear, you may already be at an advantage. Some people keep camp stoves and fuel even when the season is over. If your power is out, this may be the only way to prepare food for a time.
If you don’t have these tools, prepare to eat cold or dry foods. You’ll want to avoid opening your refrigerator as much as possible and fill your freezer space with water bottles or jugs before the power goes out. When the power goes, the frozen water will serve 2 purposes. Cold air sinks, so having a full freezer will keep your fridge colder for longer. Further, as the water thaws, you’ll have access to that water for drinking or cooking.
Unless you have a hand pump at your sink, you’ll be relying on electricity to pump your water. Conserve water wherever you can during the worst of the storm to ensure you have enough to stay safe and healthy until it is safe to venture out or the power is turned back on.
Avoid flushing the toilets and running water if you can. On the flip side, avoid your pipes freezing by letting your faucets drip slightly if your sinks are on exterior walls.) Fill pots and pitchers of water before the power goes if you’ve got an advanced warning. Put lids on these to keep them clean and prevent them from freezing.
Make sure to use your active power while you’ve still got it. Keeping your phones on chargers until the power goes out means you’ll have your phones if you need to contact emergency services, family, friends, or workplaces. Keeping your phone charged is also valuable to track the storm and check on your neighborhood's electricity status.
Take Care of Each Other
In times of natural disasters, crises, or other danger, it’s important to care for our neighbors. Check-in on the elderly or disabled, Help others find resources to keep them safe. Next time, who knows, it may be you who needs the help, and those around you will remember how you helped or didn’t help them in a tight spot.
Be Kind. And Be Safe.