Thursday, February 18, 2021

10 Lessons from This Week's Winter Storm

With 150 million Americans under a winter weather advisory, I probably don't need to tell you that the weather has been pretty awful this past week.  For most folks in the northern parts of our country, a huge snow storm isn't such a big deal but for the millions of people who live in Texas, this week's storm has been unexpected, unprecedented, dangerous, and even deadly for some.  So far there has been little resolution as it is still snowing and it is still icy and many people are still without heat, water, and in some cases, food.  Here's ten lessons learned from the storm so far:

  1. Don't rely on the government to help you.  The Texas government and ERCOT knew their grid had serious issues a decade ago, and didn't do anything about it.  Plus, it's Texas, and they have nowhere near the cold weather supplies (sand, snow clearing vehicles, etc) that northern states have.  The governor of Texas, when asked when people will get water and power back, pretty much just shrugged.  And then there was this response to suffering constituents from this mayor.
  2. Besides having no warning that the power (and thus heat) would be going out for an indeterminant amount of time, most folks in Texas had no idea how to keep warm when their usual sources of heat weren't available.  Here's several tips.
  3. If possible, be prepared to stay where you are for the duration of the storm.  If you are home, stay home; if you are at work and if possible, stay at work.  Driving on the roads this past week was both dangerous and deadly.
  4. Everyone needs to know how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, a common occurrence when people try to heat their cold homes with unapproved devices.  More than 300 people have been poisoned by carbon monoxide over the past week in Texas with some even dying.
  5. Coming along on the heels of wide-spread power outages in Texas were long-term, unexpected water outages due to frozen pipes and lack of electricity to run water pumps.  Obviously a disaster on top of a disaster.  Here's how to prepare for that possibility.
  6. Have the gear you need for cold weather before you need it.  For most years, this is a non-issue in Texas and the gulf-coast states as the weather doesn't usually get very cold for very long in these areas so most people don't even have cold weather gear in the first place.  Needless to say, people in Texas this week probably wish they had prepared for the worst a while back (this goes for everything from mittens and down blankets to snow shovels and food).
  7. Speaking of food, and something I found surprising after the whole covid thing, many people were still unprepared for a disaster when it came to having food in their homes.  Of course some people may not be able to afford to stockpile several week's of food but after seeing how the pandemic so easily cleared store shelves, EVERYONE needs to keep a "storm cache" of food on hand.  Here's what to get.  Note that with no power, no heat, and no water, having easy-to-open, easy-to-prepare, and easy-to-eat food on hand is quite important.
  8. Many people will never experience a long-term power outage, but it can happen (ask anyone in Texas this week) so preps for this situation should be on your "to do" list.  Here's how to prepare.
  9. Learning from people who are in the midst of/have survived such a disastrous event is a good way to educate yourself as well as add to your own preps/skills.  This can be done by perusing news articles, subreddits, and news aggregators
  10. Help others if you can.  There have been numerous reports of people helping neighbors and checking on the elderly, Mattress Mack was doing his usual thing during the disaster, and restaurants as well as ordinary people were helping those in need where they could.

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