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Are you prepared for the next blizzard? Let’s check. (We know winter storms here at Almanac Headquarters in New Hampshire!) High winds, blowing snow, and freezing temperatures can be quite dangerous. See five quick tips to keep yourself safe when the next storm rolls through!
Blizzards are dangerous winter storms with strong winds (over 35 mph) and blowing snow. The high winds make the temperature outside even colder, leading to hazardous windchill temperatures which can cause frostbite and hypothermia. In addition, high winds cause whiteout conditions with low visibility. Finally, blizzards often bring power outages and frozen pipes. So, when you hear a blizzard (or even a severe winter storm) is a-coming, take it seriously and get prepared!
Five Ways to Prepare for Winter Storms
Know your risk. How prepared is your region for winter weather? How well do residents in your community drive on winter roads? If you live in rural areas and it’s too dangerous for school buses to be on the road, be prepared for school closures. Southern storms obviously take more time to recuperate from because they have less snow removal equipment. If you live in the south, prepare for many schools and businesses to be closed for days.
Have supplies on hand. As with any winter storm, be stocked with plenty of water as well as non-perishable food. FEMA has an excellent list of emergency items to have on hand. Also, keep a preparedness kit in your car! Never leave your home without a water bottle, cell phone, flashlight, blanket, first aid kit, granola bars, ice scraper/snow brush, shovel, windshield washer fluid and cell phone charger in the car. Make sure your tires are in good shape, you have at least a half tank of gas, and your car is running smoothly, too. Check out our winter car emergency kit list.
Have a back-up plan for power. Make sure you and your family can survive without electricity for at least 3 days. Put the flashlights and/or battery-powered (LED) lanterns on the table. Headlamps are very helpful so that you can use your hands. Check that you have plenty of batteries. For your cell phone, a portable USB battery back is handy. We know one rural reader who stocks a battery-powered radio (rechargeable with a hand crank) in case the cell phone dies. She also makes sure everyone takes a shower and leaves the tub half-filled with flushing water, in anticipation of a power outage; also, fill a couple of big stock pots with drinking and cooking water. Invest in a generator, especially if you live in an area frequented by power outages. See more tips on surviving power outages.
Reach out to other family members, neighbors, and your employer. Would any of your elderly or special needs neighbors need help if they lost power? Does your employer expect you to be at work during a winter storm? Make sure your pets are inside and move any outside animals or livestock to sheltered areas with a heavy bed of straw or shavings and access to non-frozen drinking water that isn’t blocked by snow or ice.
Don’t overexert yourself when outdoors in the cold weather. The American Heart Association says the strenuous activity of shoveling snow can take a toll on your body and can actually increase your chances of having a heart attack. While you may think you’re OK, someone you know may not be. Take an American Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED course to learn life-saving skills! Pet CPR courses are also available in some areas.
Preparedness is power! Don’t be left out in the cold during the next winter storm.