Winter Storm Preparedness
The weather has been relatively pleasant this late fall and winter. However, as anyone who has lived in South Dakota knows, it is only a matter of time before a change. While it would seem that most South Dakotans are used to winter storms, blizzards and the occasional loss of electricity associated with them, it always seems to catch some people by surprise. I have been lucky and have only had to live through one extended period of not having electricity in my home. That experience was only three nights, so it was fairly painless.
Do you have a plan in case you are without power for an extended period? You may want to look at this as a three-stage process:
- Stage 1: Preparation (before the storm).
- Stage 2: Survival (during the storm).
- Stage 3: Recovery (after the storm).
Stage 1: Preparation
During the preparation stage, make an emergency kit and have your children help gather supplies to build your kit. Having them help allows them to feel empowered and may help bring a sense of relief knowing there is a plan in place. If you have access to a generator, use an extension cord that allows the generator to remain at least 20 feet from any door, window or vent. Also, make plans for how you can avoid driving.
Emergency Supply List:
- Food & Water: 3-day supply of non-perishable food (dried fruit, canned tuna, peanut butter, etc.). At least a gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and hygiene.
- Utensils: Can opener, paper plates, plastic cups & utensils, paper towels.
- First Aid Kit: Prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter medications) and medical supplies.
- Sanitation Supplies: Supplies for sanitation, such as hand sanitizer, towelettes, paper products, diapers, and plastic bags (for use when water resources are limited).
- Blankets & Clothing: Extra clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags.
- Electronics: Flashlight with extra batteries. Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio with extra batteries.
Stage 2: Survival
Source: John Keimig, iGrow
During the survival stage, stay inside and avoid driving as much as possible. If the power goes out, close off unused rooms to consolidate and conserve heat. Dress in layers to keep warm during power loss. Bring pets inside that do not have adequate shelter. Limit time outdoors. If you are outside, dress for the weather and avoid frostbite. Do not use the stove to try to heat your home. Never use generators, outdoor heating, or cooking equipment to try to heat your home. These use oxygen and can give off harmful carbon monoxide. If you must drive, keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle.
Stage 3: Recovery
After the storm is the recovery stage. If the power is out for very long, many communities will set up warming shelters. Consider going to them. If you do not have enough supplies, consider going to the community shelter. If you must go outside, dress warm and avoid prolonged exposure to cold and wind to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
When the power comes back on there will be other things to consider, such as your refrigerator and freezer contents.