Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons Learned from the First Snow Storm of the Season

Fortunately I am in the sunny southwest basking in 80 degree weather.  If not for a last-minute schedule change, I would be freezing my bum off with millions of other people in the Northeast.  This is what we can learn from this very early, very big snow storm:
  • No matter when you fly, you could end up stranded on your plane for hour after miserable hour.  Are you prepared?  Be sure you bring plenty of food and water with you.  A good book (or five) is nice, as well as a netbook/iPad/laptop to keep you occupied.
  • These passengers also ended up stranded in the airport overnight.  When you travel are you prepared to sleep on an airport floor for a night or two?  Since this happens with surprising regularity (whether because of bad weather, a 9/11 type event, or a volcano erupting), don't think that your quick four-hour flight is only going to take four could end up taking four days.  Plan accordingly.  Again, bring extra food, water, entertainment material, a charger for your cell phone and laptop, and something you can fashion into a blanket.
  • Just because you are home, doesn't mean you will fare much better.  In order to be prepared at home, you need to have at least a week's worth of food, water, and disposable goods (diapers, toilet paper, etc) so that you won't need to leave you home and run out to the closest grocery store with hoards of other unprepared people.
  • You also need to be prepared for fairly long power outages.  You have extra batteries for your flashlights right?  An alternate way to cook (I'm a fan of cooking on a gas stove or wood stove in these instances).  And an alternate way to keep warm (again, a wood stove is nice.  A fireplace is OK.  It's also a good idea to have lots of blankets and warm clothing for each family member).
  • For people who must drive in this weather, preparedness is a must.  These days I don't have to risk life and limb on slippery roadways with crazy drivers (aka city people who own four-wheel drives).  In bad weather I stay inside by the fireplace and watch the snow come down.  But for people who absolutely MUST go out in bad weather, they should prepare in a number of ways: make sure your car is in tip top shape, have chains and use them if necessary, bring along extra food, water, and blankets in case you get stranded, check out the local roads department website to check which roads have been sanded and take these, be aware of the danger of falling trees (common in heavy snow and ice), and always keep a full tank of gas (and spare gas at home if it is safe to do so).
  • Note the most common ways people die in these types of storms (car crashes, electrocution from downed power lines, carbon monoxide poisoning, fire from candles and alternative heat sources, crushed by a falling tree) and take steps so that you won't become a statistic.
  • Finally, help those who can't help themselves.  It's a fact that many people are unprepared for these types of storms (oddly enough these people live in these areas for years so they SHOULD be prepared, but I digress...) and end up needing your help.  In this case, it is a good idea to check on elderly neighbors and relatives, find out where the local warming shelters are so that you can give this information to people who need it if you can't/don't want to take them in yourself (a lot of single moms have a hard enough time getting by day by day let alone preparing for a disaster), and people with severe medical issues can find a simple power outage to be a major crisis (people on home ventilators, people with severe medical needs, people who run out of critical meds, etc).
For readers of this blog, this shouldn't come as new information.  Being prepared for whatever may happen is just a normal part of your day.  Employing common sense when the worst happens should, again, be a normal part of your day.  And if your normal day entails watching the snow pile up by your home today--stay in and stay warm...and have a Happy Halloween (something tells me you will have a lot of candy left over this evening).

1 comment:

  1. I think a lot of folks did better this year on having at least some items after all the disasters/storms we have in the USA. I sure hope they are ready. I was very encouraged by the lack of news stories on rushes or panic buying for this storm.
    We have snow in the forcast this weekend but while a bit early not unheard of for SW Idaho.