When Winter Visits Unexpectedly
If you live in Clearwater, Florida you know that the Sunshine State often likes to skip fall and winter and enjoy highs in the 80s into early November. If you live near Pomerelle Mountain in Idaho you know that they also decided to skip fall this year, but with a far different outcome than the Sunshine State. By October 11th they had already experienced 13” of snow! It’s safe to say, no one saw this coming!
So, what happens should you find yourself impacted by a sudden or severe snowstorm or blizzard while you are at home? The first thing to do is to conduct a physical (or even mental) inventory of who is present and what you have available. If you have someone visiting that is not a member of your immediate family contact their family to let them know they’re safe and staying with you. Next, you need to prioritize your requirements. In a winter storm, staying warm will be high on the list for immediate attention.
If your power remains on during the storm and there’s no damage to your house, staying warm will most likely be easy. Should the power be lost, and your furnace is no longer functional, quickly prepare for the house to get cold. Have everyone join in one room for ongoing accountability of household members, especially small children, and for added warmth through body heat.
Once everyone is in the same room, close the room off from the other parts of the house. It will be easier to keep smaller space to keep warm. If possible, use a room with no or as few windows as possible. If you have windows in the room, cover them with the curtains or even an additional blanket to help keep warmth in and cold out. However, if the sun is shining, let it in to help heat the room.
Dress in layers and as the temperature drops, have everyone huddle together under blankets to preserve and share body heat. Remember that children, especially infants, may not act cold but must be kept warm regardless. If there are no other sources of heat, candles used safely in a sealed room can often provide enough heat to help prevent frostbite or hypothermia.
Sustenance and Supplies
As you prepare your warm room, bring your basic requirements along such as water, food, medicine, and if you are so inclined, protection from anyone or anything that might put you at further risk. Don’t forget about your pets and be sure to bring some food and water for them. Children may be easier to keep happy if you also bring some toys or games. Also, gather whatever infant care items you need to have on hand like diapers, wipes, and even some plastic bags for soiled diapers.
Light becomes extra important in a power outage during the winter because a lightened room psychologically seems warmer than a dark room. The winter months are already darker so add this on top of a power outage and it’s easy to see why light is so important! A small flashlight can produce a warm glow that covers most of the room by simply placing the lit end inside an empty plastic milk jug or something similar.
Self-powered (hand-crank) radios or battery-operated radios can provide you with important news on the weather conditions. Obviously, cell phones or other wireless communication devices can do the same and more as long as the network is functional, and the batteries remain charged. Use these devices sparingly to make the battery charge last as long as possible. Have other means of communication on hand just in case.
During an emergency, even if you haven’t planned for it, focus and use your best survival tool you have; your brain. Consider similar events that you have experienced and build from those as you plan to be safe.
Always remember, the overarching goal in any emergency is to avoid panic and focus on the situation and use whatever assets you have available. If you aren’t as prepared as you’d like to be due to the unexpectedness of the storm brainstorm ways as a group that you can stay warm and safe. You’d be surprised at what you come up with!