Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

As I write this I am holed up in my office with a space heater on my feet and an outside temperature that is plunging towards 10 degrees. It's snowy and icy and if you stay outside too long your face goes numb. Now if you live in the mid west or northeast this is pretty normal during the winter but for where I live, this type of weather is relatively uncommon. For those who need some cold weather survival tips, here they are:

  • If you don't need to go out on the icy, snowy roads, stay home. The fewer people sliding around on the roads, the better.

  • If you must go out, be prepared. Make sure you car has all of the cold weather gear you need including an ice scraper, tire chains, a full tank of gas, spare blankets, food, and water. If you will be driving a long distance in bad weather, leave an itinerary.

  • Consider taking the bus or a cab if you aren't comfortable driving in bad weather.

  • Practice driving in icy and snowy conditions by heading to the biggest parking lot you can find and testing your car's ability to stop, start, and maneuver on the slippery road surface.

  • Dress appropriately. Sturdy shoes, socks, layered clothing, a hat, gloves, scarf, et al will help protect you from the bitter cold. Make sure your kids are similarly dressed--frostbite and hypothermia are unpleasant.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you are walking by cars, they may not be able to stop so give them plenty of room. If the walkway is steep and icy, walk to the side in the grass. Watch out for frozen tree branches and power lines; they can sometimes break under the weight of the ice.

  • Take care of animals and pets. Ensure that they have a relatively warm and dry place to sleep. Make sure their feet are not damaged by the ice and cold. Also check their water to make sure it isn't frozen solid.

  • Keep an eye on the kids. Not only is school usually out when there is heavy snow and ice, the most exciting things to do can be dangerous such as sliding down the biggest snowy hill in town which ends at a busy road or playing on a pond that is not sufficiently frozen solid.

  • Check the outside of your home. Make sure that faucets and pipes are protected from freezing. Take down weak tree branches (hopefully before the big freeze hits) before they fall down. Keep walkways and driveways snow and ice free to prevent slips and falls.

  • Hunker down inside your home. Close doors to unused rooms and concentrate the heat in the lived in areas (our heat is down at 60 degrees and is continually running because it is so cold outside and we are using space heaters to quickly and efficiently heat the room we are in). Instead of each family member hanging out (and thus requiring a high level of heat) in each of their rooms, fire up the wood stove or space heater and have everyone congregate in the family or living room.

  • Should the power go out, determine if you can stay in your home or must evacuate.

  • If you must evacuate, call 211 and find out what local shelters are open. Or you may want to head to your bug out location or drop in for a period of time with family, friends, or a local hotel that has power.

  • If you decide to stay home during a power outage, gather everyone and their blankets into the warmest room in the house and close the door. Set up your alternate heat source and/or generator (ensure these are safely vented to the outside!) and break out the non-electric entertainment items (books, board games, etc).

  • Regularly check on elderly or infirm friends and neighbors to ensure that they are warm and safe.

  • After the thaw, check your home to make sure pipes hadn't been damaged and to clean up whatever mess is left from the storm.

1 comment:

  1. add some "ice creepers" to your emergency equipment list too. not crampons, unless you're climbing a glacier, just short spikes to keep you mobile if things ice up. you don't want to add broken bones to your list of troubles. also, bring along some sand in the vehicle for traction. i've tried cat litter, and IMHO, it's useless.(unless you're going to the rescue of someone with a cat)