Every year, winter becomes more unpredictable. Meteorologists can’t seem to keep up with the changes. At any given moment, we could be snowbound for an indefinite period of time. Last year was kind. We had snow, but nothing near where we have before. But, with uncertainty looming again this year, as a reminder to myself as well as others, I am once again compiling a list of sorts to help get everyone ready.
1. Batteries are not just for toys & remotes! How many batteries do you have on hand? Estimate how long they’ll last. Some may be generic and some brand name. Determine which items are in need of fresh batteries that can be replaced right now. If they’re iffy, change them now anyway and be ahead of the game. Make a list of any additional batteries, a week’s worth, that you’ll need.
2. Portable charging devices are our friends. We have five total. Make sure they’re charged! They’re no use to us if they’re dead. Fully charge them and then hide them, very well, from the teens! Have at least one per cell phone.
3. Lighters aren’t just for smokers. Have at least one, unopened pack, in an accessible location. We’ll get to that location in a minute. Do not open the pack for any reason other than an emergency. If you go through lighters quickly, buy a few extra $1 packs. Have one of the extra long lighters for candles.
3. Candles aren’t just pretty. Big candles burn longer. Expensive ones do, too. We’re not concerned with fragrance here. Just make sure there is at a minimum one, medium candle per room of your home. Now’s the time to place them. Never burn a candle if you’re not in the room with it. It’s chancey. Put one in room and leave it alone. Don’t burn these specific ones. Tealights are a waste in these situations. They burn too quickly to be effective.
4. A manual can opener may save the day. Believe me: it has bailed me out a few times. Put it with your lighters.
5. Make a location- a drawer, backpack, extra purse, old diaper bag- your official blizzard preparedness location. This is where you’ll stash the chargers, lighters, etc. Put it where you’ll see it everyday. A closet, a drawer, anywhere you come in contact with it every day. This way, you’ll never forget where it is. Label it. Make it off limites to anyone other than you.
6. Pet food/treats- make sure you have enough for a week. If you can swing it, either portion out a week’s worth from what you already have or buy a super small bag/cans to put in your blizzard bag. If you get samples from somewhere of treats, etc. put them in that bag, too.
7. Emergency contact numbers: who needs to know that you’re snowed in? Who needs to call you if they’re snowed in? Make the calls, send the texts, email them- get it together now. If you have elderly neighbors, be a good person. Take care of their lists with them, too.
8. Generators, kerosene heaters- if you operate these regularly, awesome. A blizzard is NOT the time to try them out for the first time. Now is! Get familiar with them. Have a full, unused, safe can of kerosene and/or gas available. Make sure you can retrieve it in a foot of snow! One year, we stored it across the property then couldn’t get through the snow to get it! Not good.
9. If you plan to use a fireplace, make sure it’s in working order. If you haven’t been able to maintain it, don’t use it.
10. If you are ready to use your fireplace, do you have a week’s worth of wood? Check your stockpile then buy or get chopping.
11. Food is an iffy thing. If you can run your fridge or stove off a generator, then you should be fine. If you can’t, make sure the pantry’s stocked. Is there a week’s worth of non-perishables? Cereal, crackers, peanut butter, etc. Check. Make a list. Shop soon. As much water as you can stockpile is essential. Buy, refill, etc. There’s never too much water.
12. If you have young children, add some things to the bag that they can do. Card games, new crayons, and thing that isn’t electronic that may keep them occupied. New books are good too. Speaking of which, make sure your reading devices are full charged when a storm is predicted. Phones too. Of course, those portable devices are fine to recharge them, but start out ahead of the game.
13. Invest in a charcoal, cheap grill. Buy a bag of charcoal, too. In a big blizzard, where there’s no power (we had a 18 day one, once), charcoal can keep you fed. It’ll be a good way to utilize perishable food too and not feel like you’re roughing it. Everyone loves grilled food. Make sure you have lighter fluid, the long lighter and a well-ventilated space.
In a pinch, your generator can run a Panini maker, etc. if needed.
14. Clothing- do you have warm clothes in the event a heating source is scare. Put extra gloves, hats, etc. in the bag. Socks, too. Make sure the kids have their gear at the ready. Stack extra blankets in a space near the bag.
15. Medicine: If you don’t get 90 day supplies, consider it. Make a list of everything you take from vitamins to pain relief. Do you have at least a week’s worth? Make sure they’re all together in case of an emergency, grab-and-go situation if you have to leave your residence. Same goes for an extra pair of glasses (we have an old pair of my son’s in the bag) and contacts + solution.
16. Copies of driver’s licenses,birth certificates, medical cards, and social security cards should also be in your bag, together. In a grab-and-go, these are always forgotten! They’re important. If applicable, do the same for vet records. Make sure you animals have their tags. If the situation warrants that you need to go to a shelter, you’ll need these on-hand.
Prepare now. Right now. Don’t wait. Twenty years of living rural, at least 10 separate blizzards, two floods and multiple ice storms have force us to get our act together. We’ve learned from out mistakes.