If you’ve been monitoring winter weather forecasts for the upcoming season, or consulted the Farmer’s Almanac, then you know that this winter is predicted to be as cold, wet, and snow-filled as last (if not worse). I’m in the Northeast, so extreme weather is nothing out of the ordinary. We weathered Hurricane Sandy, losing power for five days, and last winter, the area where we currently live was without power for over a week. The nature of my husband’s work frequently requires him to be at work during weather emergencies, leaving my son and myself to wait out these storms by ourselves.
I don’t want to be caught unprepared for when severe snow storms hit this winter, so I’m putting together a plan and supplies in the event that we are without power (and heat) this winter. I want to share some of the things I’m doing to ensure we’re prepared when winter weather hits, and snowstorms bring things to a halt, should we be without power for an extended period of time.
An alternate heating source is a must, as we rely on electric to heat our home. Losing power during a winter storm means we will need an alternate heating source to stay warm (and safe) in our home. I grew up with kerosene heaters and remember being on refill duty as a child; I also remember cleaning the grimy residue our kerosene heat left on our walls and ceilings. We currently live in a small house, so I worry about the safety of kerosene fumes and having this type of heater with an active toddler; for these reasons, we will not be using a kerosene heater. If you do use a kerosene heater, please take a look at these safety and maintenance guidelines, found on kerosene-wicks.com.
My choice for alternate heating is a portable propane heater; clean and efficient, portable propane heaters are a great choice for alternate household heating (and great for camping, too!). To ensure overall safety, our portable propane heater purchase will be accompanied by a carbon monoxide detector. SouthernStates.com offers a great guide to portable propane heater safety. My choice of portable propane heater is the Buddy model by Mr. Heater, which heats an area of up to 200 square feet and possesses multiple safety features (accidental tip-over shut-off and an automatic low oxygen shut-off system).
In the event that we lose electric (and our heating), warm clothing is a must, as alternate heating sources will not be heating our entire home. I prefer a cool house during the winter months, so layers and sweaters are a given, but what if we lose our main heating source? If you live up north, and spend any time outside throughout the winter months, you know that thermal underwear and winter are synonymous. This adorable polar bear toddler thermal underwear set by Cuddl Duds is on my shopping list (who knew that thermal underwear came in fun prints?), as is a set for myself.
If a winter storm shuts down our surrounding area and leaves us without electricity for a week, having food and water on hand is a must. I’m not going to go overboard here, but I do want to be prepared, as I don’t regularly keep canned or processed food on hand. Milk is a must with a toddler, and there are several options available to ensure that you have milk on hand. One option is to keep extra (or backup) milk in your freezer (The Parenting Patch has an informative post about freezing milk and butter). We don’t have a chest freezer, and our freezer space is limited, so freezing milk is not an option.
Powdered milk (cow or goat, depending upon what you use) and shelf stable milks are two alternate options. Growing up, my mother kept Parmalat in our pantry, so I’m partial to the brand; however, you can easily find alternate brands in your local grocery store (we took these Organic Valley shelf stable single serving milk boxes with us on a recent trip).
Keeping a backup loaf of bread in the freezer can come in handy if you’re caught without power (peanut butter and jelly, anyone?), and a supply of canned soups can easily get you through until power is restored. If you don’t have a gas range or camp stove, you can easily use your outdoor gas grill for heating foodstuffs (as long as you don’t mind shoveling it out).
With an active toddler, candles, oil lamps, and propane lanterns [with burning mantles] are not a safe option for lighting during a power outage. Instead, we have this Hybrid Light Solar Lantern (from The Ultimate Green Store). No need for batteries, as the sun is enough to power this lantern (but you can power it by battery or charge with an adapter). With LED lights, the solar lantern won’t get hot to the touch and provides plenty of light.
Flashlights are a given for navigating your way around the dark recesses of your powerless home. With winter weather emergency preparedness on my mind, we stumbled upon a great find at a recent flea market: a weather emergency flashlight and radio. Not only is it a high-powered flashlight, but the built in radio takes care of our need for news during a power outage (how many of us have battery powered radios anymore?). While ours is not the new model (containing a cell phone charger) it will allow me to scan radio news for state of emergency declarations and weather/storm updates and reports.
Keeping Your Cell Phone Charged
When Hurricane Sandy hit us a few years ago, she took out cell towers and rendered our cell phones useless. Even without ‘downed’ cell towers, I was left with no way to call my husband (we don’t maintain a land line) when my cell phone battery ran out (I don’t have a car charger either). I won’t be left incommunicado this winter (or anytime) with a portable cell phone charger. I received this myCharge Energy Shot compact portable charger through a promotion, and it is my newest handbag addition (perfect for travel).
If you’re looking for more information about how to prepare your family for winter weather emergencies, check out this checklist by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
What preparations are you making to protect your family and home, in the event of a winter storm emergency?
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