Ten tips to preparing for a blizzard

Unlike many natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes, blizzards usually offer a certain amount of warning. Being prepared for a deadly winter storm is a must for those living in colder climates; although with the strange weather anomalies occurring worldwide, everyone should have a basic emergency kit with enough food, water, and warmth to last a minimum of 72 hours.

1. Always have an emergency kit. No matter where you live it could save your life. Include water, non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, toilet paper, a manual can opener, prescription and over the counter remedies, flashlight with extra batteries, candles, pet food, and if you have small children diapers, wipes and formula. Add a supply of trash bags and hand sanitizer for hygienic purposes.

2. In addition to your emergency kit, extra clothes and blankets should be kept in the same area. Fleece or wool sweaters, t-shirts (for layering) long johns and warm pants, changes of underwear and socks, hats, and a warm pair of gloves or mittens should be stocked for every member of the family. Rotate out clothes at least twice a year, upgrading sizes as children grow.

3. Invest in a hand crank/solar powered radio. There are plenty of small radios that have three power settings, battery, hand crank and solar, and most run under $40. You can get all the normal channels for entertainment, but be sure to get one that offers NOAA weather alerts and Emergency Broadcasting. Many even come with adaptors to charge your smart phone.

4. If you are hit with a blizzard, do not leave your home. The wildly flying flakes can create a whiteout which will lead to disorientation, even just a few feet from your house. Many people have died in whiteout conditions, only to be found later a mere six feet from their front door.

5. Entertainment. Blizzards can last from hours to days, so it’s important to have something to occupy your time while the power is out. Playing cards, dice, and coloring books and puzzles for the kids will keep everyone from going stir crazy.

6. Stay off the roads. Traveling during a heavy storm is never a good idea. If you do happen to be out and about, find a hotel or 24 hour truck stop to hole up in until the storm passes.

7. If you are caught in a blizzard while traveling, do not be tempted to keep the car running. Snow can build up in the exhaust pipes causing deadly carbon monoxide to seep into the car. It is better to run the engine in short bursts, just enough to keep warm, and keep the window cracked while doing this to avoid dangerous fume buildup. Keep a supply of blankets, bottled water, and high energy snacks stocked in the car at all times in case of an emergency. Tie a bright colored cloth to your door handle or antenna for rescue workers to find you.

8. Potatoes. Yup, those tasty tubers should always be stocked in your pantry for meals, but they can also keep you warm. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, wrap potatoes in tin foil and place them near the coals. Once the potatoes are baked (try to time it so they will be ready just before bedtime) place them in your sleeping bag by your feet. Your feet will stay warm all night. Plus you have a still warm, high carbohydrate breakfast in the morning.

9. Keep snow shovels near the entryway to your home when you know a storm is coming. It’s no fun trudging through 5 foot high drifts to the shed, and by the time you get there you will have wasted an awful amount of energy- and you still have to shovel the paths!

10. Keep moving to increase blood flow and circulation if you become cold.

If you live in a storm prone climate, consider getting a generator to power up the house when the lights go out.

Keep in mind that although blizzards are usually spotted early, they can develop quickly without much warning. Winter storms are a serious threat to safety. When preparing for anything it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Photo courtesy of Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

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