Get to the grocery store. Now. Winter weather is coming. You may never again have access to milk or bread.
Ok, so this is obviously an exaggeration. Though, sometimes it can seem that winter warnings in our area become over the top and almost comical. There surely is a happy balance between hysteria and preparedness.
As we are writing this, the weekend weather forecasts show another round of freezing temperatures and we certainly are in the season of ice and snow. In dangerous conditions and extreme cold, children and elderly are at the highest risk because of their bodies’ vulnerabilities. Whether you have a house full of children, grandchild or a braving the storm alone, how can you best prepare your household for winter weather?
- Prepare ahead of time with ice-melt, sand, a snow shovel and wood for a fire (if you have a wood burning fireplace). This keeps your roadways as clear as possible and allows for alternative heat sources in the event of power outages. If feasible, you may consider investing in a small generator.
- Have a stash of flashlights and batteries readily available.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Using ovens, stoves and unattended space heaters as heat sources is not advised. The fire and/or carbon monoxide risk associated with these methods is just too high – especially with children.
- Learn how to shut off water in case a pipe bursts.
- Beware of carbon monoxide. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal¬ burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit at least 20 feet from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Have some planned activities indoors such as board games, books, coloring books and cards. TV, movies, handheld devices and computers are difficult to count on for activity without electricity for the charger!
- During the cold, snow or freezing rain, use common sense. Stay indoors. Stay dry. Dress warmly. Use extra blankets. Insulate doorways and windows with rolled towels.
- If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472).
- Check in with close family, friends and neighbors to ensure they are safe and warm.
Oklahoma weather can be unpredictable and extreme. Do we recommend buying 10 gallons of milk a week before weather hits? Probably not. But having a plan in place and preparations ready can make all the difference when you are unexpectedly (or expectedly) met with extreme cold and no electricity. So go buy some milk…and maybe a loaf of bread. Then, snuggle in with your family and relax knowing you are prepared for the worst while hoping for a cozy, easy weekend.