Cold, frigid air is fast approaching. And with that comes weather that can go from peaceful calm to a monster blizzard in just a matter of hours. Now is the time to be prepared. From power outages to total white-outs, don’t get caught in a situation where it can be hard to reach out for help. Here are some helpful tips on not letting a blizzard freeze you out.
Pay Close Attention to the Weather
If you know a bad storm is coming that has the potential to be deadly, keep a close eye on it. The National Weather Service explains that a blizzard is defined as having sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or greater. This includes falling and blowing snow that reduces visibility. The result can be impassable roads, massive power outages and a dangerous drop in temperature. Because weather patterns change, it’s best to track storms in your area so you can be ready.
Prepare and Stock Up Now
If a blizzard is going to hit your area within the next 48 hours, now is the time to really prepare.
- Button up your home by applying weatherstripping to drafty areas.
- Make sure all windows and doors close and lock properly.
- Caulk around windows to create an airtight seal.
- Heat wrap water pipes to prevent them from freezing if you lose power.
- Add insulation around the main areas of your home, especially near your water and heat source.
- Have a battery-powered radio.
- Fill up with fuel oil and gas.
- Keep your vehicle out of the elements and make sure the battery is fully charged.
- Be sure you have enough medications for the next week or longer.
- Stock up on food, especially non-perishable goods.
- Have plenty of bottled and potable water on hand.
Being prepared as far in advance as possible ensures your home is a safe place to bunker down.
Be Alert for Power Outages
When you’re facing high winds, ice and heavy snowfall, expect power outages. Now is the time to charge phones, batteries, radios and electronic devices. Test your portable generator outdoors to make sure it’s in good working order.
Have an Alternate Heat Source Available
For hard-hitting storms, it can be a matter of life or death if your heat source fails. In some locations, wind chills can be well below zero, making survival the only priority. Having a kerosene heater or wood stove as a backup can be a lifesaver, however, exercise extreme caution to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Provide proper ventilation for wood and kerosene. Never use a gas generator inside the home and be sure it’s a distance away from the dwelling — at least 20 feet — to prevent fumes from entering.
Survive and Bundle Up
Avoid being outdoors and on the road during a blizzard. If you find yourself outside when the storm hits, go to a safe location immediately, if possible. Always have blankets and gloves in your car and nearby if you must be out in the elements. Keep portable hand warmers on you for added protection.
During a blizzard, your best bet is to stay indoors. Weather can be unpredictable and untreated surfaces can quickly lead to a slip and fall. Children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems are at an even greater risk.
Know the Signs of Hypothermia
If you’re stuck outdoors in the storm or your power has gone out and your heat source fails to operate, you’re at high risk for hypothermia. Some signs to look for:
- Slow breathing and weak pulse
- Low energy
Any of these signs require immediate emergency help.
Also, it’s important to recognize and respond to frostbite. Any numbness in the extremities and changes in skin color could indicate frostbite. Keep your skin as dry as possible when exposed to cold temps and reach out for medical attention as soon as you can.
Don’t Forget to Check on Neighbors and the Elderly
Talk to your neighbors or those who may not have the means to prepare for themselves. Get them to a safe location or help them get ready for the storm. Be sure all animals are out of the elements, too.
The best way to avoid the wrath of a blizzard is to stay indoors and brave the storm with a trusty heat source. Proper prepping is also a requirement for survival. Always expect the worst, then you’ll be ready to tackle Mother Nature head-on.
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