10 Steps To Prepare For a Blizzard

I am certain that there are many folks in the Chicago area right now who are hoping and praying that the current weather forecast is incorrect. The forecast for the next few days there is downright nasty. Even for mid-westerners who are used to cruddy winter weather, this storm may bring some surprises. CNN meteorologist Sean Morris says that “this storm could be one of the top ten biggest snow storms ever in the city.”

I know people panic in these situations. The idea of being without heat and electricity can be scary, as can the idea of trying to drive across town on roads that are literal sheets of ice. But as I always say, it is best to be proactive and prepared, not panicked. Here are 10 basic essentials to being prepared for a snow storm:

(1) The most important thing to prepare for is a power outage. With the heavy snow fall and strong winds that are common in blizzards, it is not unlikely that you will lose power. If your water supply depends on an electric pump, stock up on bottled water. Make sure you have a hand-held (not electric) can opener, a battery-operated radio or television, and extra batteries. Place candles around your house in places where they can be safely lit and not knocked over. Stock up on blankets, thermal underwear, matches or lighters, and cleansing supplies such as baby wipes. If you have a back-up generator, make sure you have enough gas to run it. Place these all in an obvious spot, in case it is night-time when your power goes out.

(2) Gather up your family’s warmest winter clothes. Pack a bag of thermals, gloves, hats, and other winter clothes for each member in your family. Place these bags in a safe, obvious spot. Again, you want to be able to easily find them if it’s dark out when you lose power.

(3) Do not plan to drive anywhere. Even if you have a SUV or other vehicle with 4-wheel drive, it is not a good idea to travel in a blizzard. A white out may occur at any time. Even if you trust your own ability to drive in a blizzard, you cannot trust everyone around you.

(4) If you must drive, be prepared in case you get stranded in your car. Before leaving your house, stock your car with bottled water, snacks, and blankets. Place these all inside your car, not in your trunk. Dress as warmly as possible. If you get stuck in a white out, pull over to the side of the road and turn off your engine until conditions improve. It may seem like a good idea to keep your engine on to keep the heat running, but carbon monoxide can build up inside your car and is poisonous.

(5) Stock up on at least 1 week’s worth of any essential medications. If your power is out, it will probably also be out at the pharmacy down the street. Replenish your first aid kit, if needed.

(6) Close all of your curtains, and cover drafts around windows and doors. This will help to keep warmth in your house in the event that the heat shuts off.

(7) Make sure you have an adequate supply of nutritious non-perishable survival foods. Canned beans, chicken, and fish are all good sources of protein that do not need to be cooked. Powdered milk is a basic essential. Fortified dry cereals are a good option, as are preserved fruits and vegetables. Beware of high sugar protein bars and other processed foods that claim to be healthy but contain high fructose corn syrup and other junk.

(8) Stay indoors, and keep your kids indoors. They may beg you to go outside, because it’s boring to be cooped up. But kids are very susceptible to frostbite. Plus, ice and snow drifts present hidden dangers. Stay safe by staying inside.

(9) Charge your cellphone battery. Then use it in case of emergency only. Even if phone lines are down, you can still use your cell phone.

(10) Gather up all of your snow shovels, scrapers and other snow removal tools. Keep them in a mud room, by your back door, or in another spot adjacent to your house. Essentially, you want to be able to access them if you are snowed in.

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