Surviving a Winter Storm at Home
Whether you are convinced we are experiencing the results of global warming or not, you have to agree that the world is experiencing more and more extreme weather.
We are constantly hearing of excessive cold or warm spells, of heavier than usual floods and flash flooding. We hear of snow storms and excessive snowfalls, of hail storms and tornadoes – not even to mention widespread droughts and wildfires.
We have a guy out of the Outdoor Revival office cycling from Nice in France to Barcelona in Spain and he’s had to re-route through a marsh because a road had been washed away by rain!
The World is a changing place and that affects all of us, even in our homes.
Set up an Emergency Survival Kit
With all of this going on around us, it would be a good idea to let go of the ‘it will never happen to me’ attitude and to make sure we are as well prepared as possibly. It is very important to set up an emergency survival kit, which should be kept in a safe but convenient place within your home and should be regularly checked and kept up-to-date.
Your own personal needs, your family and where your home is situated will largely dictate the makeup of your kit. It should at very least include items such as flashlights, a battery-operated radio (your cell phone would do, although there might be a loss of signal), spare batteries, first-aid supplies, matches, candles, water, canned food, non-perishable foods, a can opener and any vital medication.
In certain cases, it would probably be a good idea to copy essential papers or documents and keep them safely sealed in some sort of waterproof container or pouch in your kit.
Stock up on food and water
Should you receive a warning that you will be confined to your home for quite a while, ensure that you stock up on food supplies, store as much water as you can and don’t forget to stock up your woodpile and/or gas, you may need these to keep you warm, although some good blankets do a great job as well.
It’s prudent to have a food storage in your house on an ongoing basis; it can be used in an emergency or when times are tough with work or illness.
Ensure that all electronic equipment such as cellular phones, rechargeable battery operated lights and computerized items which you might have to use in case of emergencies are charged.
If you are snowed in
If you find yourself snowed in, there are a number of points to remember. Once again you would need to make use of your survival kit for your emergency food supply.
Hopefully, you had already organized your supply of firewood, or you have a generator, for you will definitely need it if the electricity supply is compromised.
Do ensure that care is exercised in the use of electric heaters, they are a fire hazard when incorrectly placed, left unattended, or too close to flammable materials.
Should you need to use your fire, ensure that there are suitable fire guards in place, haveing sparks and embers flying out can be dangerous and before placing any old embers in a dustbin or container for disposal, allow them to cool safely outside. If not, you may just find yourself with more fire than you bargained for!
A good idea would be for you to have in place is a regular annual program for the inspection and cleaning of your chimney. Since carbon monoxide poisoning can occur as a result of a blocked chimney, a clean and clear chimney is vital, so also ensure the snow on your roof has not blocked the chimney or the vents.
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Should you be unfortunate enough to have the snow storm cause damage to the power lines, causing power outages, you may eventually need to use candles or oil lamps. These should NEVER be left unattended and must be extinguished before you go to sleep.
For safety, ensure there is a clear space around them so they cannot accidentally cause a fire by igniting nearby material, and be sure to keep the wick trimmed. Putting them on a metal tray or other inflammable surface is a good idea.
Don’t forget the car
If circumstances eventually allow you to use your car, remember as you clear snow and ice off it. Clean out the tailpipe as well. It is important that you at all times that you kit your car out for survival too. A spare blanket, some water, a first aid kit, a flashlight, road flares, your hazard triangle, a spare tire as well as jumper cables should always be in your car. In the case of a storm, it is imperative that you have such a survival kit – and you may well like to add some non-perishable food items as well.
Listen to the news
Once you have received information that a storm, flood or fire is heading your way, be sure to monitor the news on your local station for updates.
Safety in the event of an evacuation
If it seems that you may have to evacuate your home, figure out how you can get from your location to safer ground. Plan a safe route, coordinate with neighbors if possible and decide exactly where you and your family will meet should you become separated, ensuring that all members know the meeting place. Try to move yourself and any animals you may have to higher ground, away from streams and rivers, and if you have the time move any valuable furniture and items to upper floors in your home.
It would be wise to turn off all electricity and gas connections. Disconnect equipment that uses water and close off water connections. Should there be sufficient time, try to prevent floodwater from entering your home by using sandbags or other flood defenses.
If you find yourself stranded on something above the floodwaters, such as a tree or a building, stay put and wait for rescue. Do not try to brave the waters yourself, they are nearly always stronger and more dangerous than they look.
In the aftermath
After the storm, once it is safe to return, beware of sharp objects and pollution in the flood waters. Be on the watch for any live electrical wires. Check that no wild animals, particularly poisonous snakes, are sheltering in your home and also check that there is no great damage or any danger of collapsing walls before entering.
We all live in the hope that none of us are threatened by any big storms but the scouts have it right when they say “Be Prepared!” So, just in case, get that Emergency Survival kit sorted for you and your family and get some supplies ready in the house.
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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