As for The Skeptics and Naysayers, these are the folks who counter every comment about an impending, possibly history-making storm with some variation of “yeah, right.” They’ve heard it before, the snow totals never amount to what is forecast, and it will all blow over before very long and won’t we - The Prepared - look silly. Aside from the fact that I will never look as silly as someone who hasn’t prepared when The Big One descends, Skeptics and Naysayers are also killjoys. There, I said it. They conflate preparation with fear and consider all weather events to be ho-hum, besides-the-point occurrences. Needless to say, I don’t get this attitude either. And, if I’m honest, when I’m not annoyed at The Skeptics and Naysayers, I feel a little sorry for them – how can one experience the power of nature via the extreme storm and not (at least sometimes) be completely awestruck.
And that brings us to The Prepared. I could wax on about us, but there’s not much time left to get everything in order, so chatting now is just a waste of time. In fact, Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel (the automated version of Jim, that is) just called twice to let me know there’s now a Winter Storm Warning in effect for our area through 1 pm Saturday (it’s not a “Watch” anymore). Are you ready? If you haven’t already checked your list, now’s the time.
· Shovel. We have a few shovels in our home, one situated by the front door and one by the back door, just in case we need to dig ourselves out. It’s no good to have your shovel in your car if you’re going to need it to get to your car.
· Salt/sand. Essential if conditions turn icy.
· Flashlights and batteries. Candles are okay, but may prove dangerously flammable. If you have a battery-powered lantern as well as flashlights, even better.
· Self-powered or battery operated radio (with plenty of batteries if it’s not self-powered).
· Food. Have enough non-perishable food to get you through a few days, though perishable food can be kept outside in a cooler as long as the temps stay below or near freezing. I just picked up whitefish salad and French bread from the Black Sheep Deli, because, really, what else do you need during a snowstorm? (Don’t worry, we have lots of canned stuff beyond that, of course).
· Water. Have plenty of water on hand. Most authorities suggest keeping at least a 3-day supply of water on hand for emergencies, and the common definition of a 3-day supply is 3 gallons per person: half to drink and half to use for cooking and sanitation. You can supplement your “non-drinkable” water supply by filling the bathtub with water. And, of course, you can always put snow in a bucket and bring it inside to melt before using for non-drinking purposes. Do not drink melted snow water - snow absorbs contaminants from air pollution and from the ground and there may even be unhealthy levels of bacteria in snow, which can be activated when the snow is brought above freezing temperature.
· Hand-Operated Can Opener. Remember, your electricity may go out, and the electric can opener would be rendered inoperable in that situation.
· Blankets and warm clothing (and during the 2011 Halloween storm we found that winter hats, gloves, and hand and foot warmers were also essential).
· Sterno & Sterno holder/frame that you can cook on top of (it is designed to support the weight of a frying pan or pot). Unlike a propane or charcoal grill or camping stove, all of which must be used outside, Sterno can be used inside and it works well enough to heat water, soup from a can, and other prepared foods. If you feel like cooking, there are plenty of things that can be cooked over Sterno, too. It may take a while, but you weren’t going anywhere were you? Of course, if you have a fireplace, you can cook food on that, too.
· Matches to light your Sterno, candles, fireplace.
· Prescription medications at least to get you through a few days
· Cellphone with a cord, or a portable cellphone charger or a hard wired home phone. Cordless home phones will not work when the power is out.
· Other necessities like diapers, pet food, etc.
TO DO LIST (BEFORE THE STORM)
· Clear rain gutters and repair roof leaks (hopefully you’ve already taken care of this)
· Cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm (again, at this point you’ll just have to hope for the best if you haven’t attended to this already).
· Anticipate a long power outage. By preparing you can make a power outage bearable.
· Catch up on laundry and wash dishes (just in case power goes out and you lose hot water)
· Keep tabs on your family members. Make sure you know where everyone in your family is and that they have proper shelter before the storm hits.
· Charge all your electronics ahead of time (cell phones, iPods, laptops, etc.)
· Keep Warm. When the storm hits, already have a fire or furnace running to keep you warm if this is feasible. Keep blankets ready, drink hot liquids, and eat hot foods.
· Have entertainment ready, such as books, board games, cards, crafts, etc. Some families have so much fun during forced power outages that they end up instituting a regular “voluntary power outage” after the storm is long done.