Emergency Preparedness in Freezing Weather
Make sure your family can survive a
power outage during freezing weather
by Damien Andrews
It happens every year. Blizzards and ice storms knockout electrical power to homes. Sometimes it’s just a few hundred homes, other times it’s over a million. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you and your family can survive these life-threatening catastrophes.
If you happen to have $15-20,000.00 that you can let loose of, then have a whole-house backup generator installed, along with the appropriate fuel supply. If you’re in this category, you need not continue reading – just get the generator installed. For the rest of us, the answer is a bit more involved, but a whole lot less costly.
If you experience a power outage in freezing weather, you have three primary concerns to deal with quickly: heat, shelter and water. Food will become a concern during an extended emergency event – 24-hours or longer. Here are some excellent ways to make sure you are prepared to provide these things for your family in an emergency, along with some supporting points and suggestions. (Please note that this article assumes that you will have the necessary shelter in your home.)
- Long underwear is a superb addition to the wardrobe during freezing weather. Have a clean set of long underwear for each family member. As soon as an emergency occurs, or is imminent, don that long underwear.
- Make sure everyone has a really warm hat. Tremendous heat loss occurs through the head. Make sure the hat is of the insulating variety and can be pulled down to cover the ears, forehead and back of the neck.
- Purchase a small propane heater and a refillable bottle of propane. The heater needs to be one of the types that does not require electricity to be effective, such as a radiant heater. These are available in a variety of sizes. This is for emergency use – not to heat the house, or even a room of the house.
- Have some gallons of potable water on hand, and make sure they’re always fresh. Sealed containers are best as they will store indefinitely. Your water lines, even in the house, may well freeze during the emergency. Humans cannot survive long without water.
- Blankets! Wrapping a blanket around yourself during freezing weather is an excellent way to retain more body heat. The blankets can be purchased inexpensively and stored for emergency use.
- Stay indoors except for emergency requirements. Don’t open a door and let cold air in. If the temperatures and conditions call for it, take your family into a small room and close the door. You will not be able to use the propane heater in a small enclosed space, but if it’s called for, go to it for use. This would be for freezing extremities and other exposed skin.
- Have some high fat content food on hand. These should be things which do not require cooking or heating. Candy bars, nuts and energy bars are all good choices. If you are extremely health conscious or have dietary concerns, do an Internet search for high fat foods that are good for you, such as olives.
- Be sure to watch each other for signs of freezing and frostbite.
- If you have an infant or an elderly person, wrap them in down – leaving minimal exposed skin. Check their extremities as needed – they may not realize or be able to alert you if they are freezing.
- A couple of decks of cards will help pass time pleasantly, and also help keep moods high under the stress of the situation.
- A battery operated radio is a great thing to have. Make sure the batteries are good when you need them. If you put a pack of lithium batteries next to the radio, and only use them for emergencies, they’ll last many years and will work well even in freezing weather.
- Have a first aid kit on-hand, along with a book about first aid.
- Have a reliable flashlight available. The new crank types are excellent for emergency use as they never require batteries.
- A package of plain, inexpensive candles will ensure that you have a long term reliable light source. Keep a disposable lighter with them, and a small box of matches. A lighted candle will also provide enough heat to ease the cold on fingers and hands.
- A small, properly charged fire extinguisher.
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