Whether a moderate snowfall over a few hours or blizzard conditions for days, winter storms can have a big impact on your family. Many winter storms have not only snow, but also low temperatures, blowing wind, and icy conditions.
A major winter storm can last for several days, and may come with high winds, freezing rain/sleet, heavy snowfall, and dangerous travel conditions. People can become trapped at home, without power, utilities, or other services. Blizzards and heavy snowfall can trap motorists in their cars, and attempting to walk for help in a blizzard can be a deadly decision.
Preparing – putting together a family disaster kit:
Having basic supplies is crucial if there is a disaster, however in the heat of the moment, you may not have the time or think of gathering them. So, do it ahead of time! The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have great information on items to pack, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Water: 2 gallons per day per person (and some for pets, too). Also fill the bath tub with water, and keep a bucket nearby, to use for flushing toilets.
- Flashlights, area lights, batteries, and chargers. Some flashlights offer crank charging for cell phones in power outages.
- A battery operated radio
- Non-perishable foods, like canned foods and peanut butter. Don’t forget the can opener!
- Cups and utensils (camping kits work great for this)
- Spare clothing and a blanket or two
- Toys, games, or other activities for the kids
- Supplies and food for pets
- Medications – if you can, try and stay ahead of your refills and keep one in the disaster kit. At the very least, take a picture of the bottle so that you know exactly what you and your family take. If you do keep a refill in the kit, make sure to change it with a new one periodically so that it has not expired.
- Create a checklist of everything that you need to grab quickly. You can tape the list to the top of the container, which should be a good size to easily carry. You may need more than one container. Keep it in a readily accessible place in your home.
Involve your children in the planning and packing! You can make it a game by doing a scavenger hunt
Check the expiration dates and have kids help with remembering and doing that, too. The more you make it a regular activity, the better. Hopefully your emergency preparations will never be more than a game, but should a disaster ever hit it could be the most important game your family has ever played.
What to do during a winter storm watch:
- Keep your weather radio handy and listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio station for your area. Having a portable battery powered radio or television, or a smart phone for updated emergency information is a good idea.
- Avoid unnecessary travel, and make sure your pets and animals are safe.
- Stay aware of changing weather conditions. Conditions can rapidly get worse.
What to do during a winter storm:
- Keep your weather radio handy still, and listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio station for your area. Having a portable battery powered radio or television, or a smart phone for updated emergency information is a good idea.
- If you lose electricity, do not use a generator indoors or in an enclosed space.
- Stay indoors and dress warmly during the storm. Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. This will help keep your family stay warmer than one bulky sweater.
- Eat regularly! Food provides the body with energy for producing heat. Also keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
After the storm:
- Continue listening to radio or television stations or NOAA Weather Radio.
- Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved.
- Help neighbors who may require special assistance.
- Avoid overexertion, particularly when clearing snow and ice.
- Check the forecast and stay aware of rapidly changing conditions before venturing out.
Print out and read “Wrigley Prepares for Winter Weather” with your kids http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/readywrigley/books.htm