Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cold Weather Preparedness

As the weather turns cold, there are some extra precautions we should take in order to ensure that our families stay safe, especially if the power goes out or we are traveling.

Make sure your car kits are up to date. If you didn't put together a kit last time we did them week by week, click here to check out the list of what we recommend. Consider adding some extra blankets and towels, especially if you live in colder climates, and definitely if you regularly drive on rural roads. Be sure to have some food in there, too, as well as water. Many people have asked us about water going bad in plastic bottles over time. If you rotate, this won't be an issue, especially in the winter. (It can be an issue in the summer, but if I had a choice between drinking water that may have a few chemicals in it or getting dehydrated, I would choose to drink the water. Just rotate it every so often!) You should have a kit in every car your family drives.

Keep your cell phones charged. I plug in my cell phone every night, regardless of whether or not I need to. You never know when the power is going to go out and you won't have a chance to charge it. Although, I DO have a cell phone charger outlet in my crank powered flashlight in my 72-hour kits, in case I need it. An upgrade: buy some walkie-talkies to share with your neighbors so that you can keep in contact during an emergency, in case the phone lines are down.

Have proper heating backups. Technically, you can safely keep your house at a cool 40
degrees without worrying about health hazards or your pipes freezing. Layer up - blankets, warm clothing, etc. Consider getting some space heaters or other alternative heat sources in case your power goes out. Of course, make sure you know how to operate them properly before you actually need to use them in an emergency. An upgrade: get a generator. Neither Abbie nor I have these, but with some online research I'm sure you could find one that's perfect for your home.

Know where your flashlights are. Sometimes the most annoying part of losing power is actually trying to find those flashlights, especially if it's completely dark! I hate digging through our 72-hour kits to find our lighting sources. It would be helpful to buy a cheap flashlight to keep somewhere in each room. The key for me will be keeping it in a place where I can easily find it in the dark, but hiding it well enough so that my two-year-old doesn't see it and demand to play with it, thus wearing out the batteries. An upgrade: keeping a wind-up flashlight in each room

Bundle up. When I was growing up, my parents kept a big wooden box full of hats, mittens, and scarves in our mudroom. Every time we left the house during the winter, we were required to put them on. At the time I was pretty embarrassed (high schoolers don't usually wear knit hats with reindeer on them), but I now appreciate the precautions. We drove on a lot of rural roads in New England, and I wasn't driving the most reliable car (a 17 y/o VW Quantum...), so if we had ever broken down on the side of the road, those warm layers would have really come in handy. Actually, they came in handy anyway because I was usually to my destination before the heat started to work. There's no real upgrade for bundling up.

For more ideas and tips for storm/power loss preparation, check out a guest post from last winter, "What I Wish I'd Known During the 2008 Ice Storm".

What do you do to prepare for cold weather?


Anonymous said...

I've never had to deal with the consequences of a real severe winter storm, but we just moved to an area where they get bad ice storms. One of the ladies in the ward said the one thing she wished she had last year when they were without water and electricity for a week was hand sanitizer, so she could feel like her hands were clean.

I never keep that stuff around, but we've added a few bottles to our long term storage - just in case!

Brooke said...

I bought a nifty flashlight that you plug into the wall. It can be used as a nightlight, or just a regular flashlight (2 settings dim & bright). My kids are quite taken with it, but I don't let them play with it... they are continually losing their flashlights.
A VW Quantum? Wow, I've only ever seen one of those, driven by a friend of mine in high school...

SarahJane said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention having a corded phone (i.e. in addition to your regular cordless landline). Cell towers aren't immune from disasters.

Additionally, if you are purchasing walkie-talkies, consider getting one with the NOAA weather station channel. This is a huge time saver to flip to the weather station and get updated weather reports/advisories.

Jody M said...

SarahJane, my husband tried to put our last corded phone into the Goodwill pile and I almost hit him over the head with it. We have it stashed away now, and I have had to pull it out on occasion. Good catch!

Joy said...

This is great! I've linked to my "This & That Thursday" post. Have a great week!!