Urban Ice Storm Preparedness

Posted: September 5, 2014 in Threats and Hazards

So the weather turning colder, old man winter will come down from the Great White North to set-up shop across country side.  Winter weather can be beautiful but it can also be deadly.  From heavy snows to freezing rain, winter weather can not only paralyze our movements making everyday task impossible, but it can also kill you and yours if you haven’t prepared well in advance.

Ice Storm Damage

Imagine waking up to a beautiful crystal landscape seen across your neighborhood.  Upon gaining your senses after you awaken from your slumber, you start to feel the cold sink in to your bones.  You look at the alarm clock that is not illuminated and start to feel a sinking feeling in your stomach.  You reach to turn on the light.  You flip the switch and no light.  Your fears are confirmed, there is no power.  A million questions begin to roll through your mind…

  • How long will the power be out???
  • How cold will it get in the house???
  • How do I cook breakfast???
  • How will we bathe with no hot water???
  • Do we have any batteries???

And the questions keep coming, each one a little worse than the one before and always answered in the negative.  No self-help and no good answers.

So, what can we do to prepare for an Ice Storm?  How can we prepare for no power for an extended period of time?  How can we solicit information about the about the event to maintain our awareness?  And most importantly how can we keep our families warm and safe during times like this?

Let’s stop for a minute and talk about something that can cause more deaths that the weather itself.  Carbon Monoxide (CO).  CO is given off by most alternative heating and power sources.  If you use either an alternative heating or power source during any power outage or other event, ensure that the exhaust is ventilated outside or use the items in a well vented area.  Symptoms for CO poisoning are as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Unconsciousness
  • Heart failure
  • Death

Don’t let yourself or your loved ones become a causality of CO poisoning.  Always take the appropriate precautions when using a devise that gives off CO gases.

If a prolonged power outage during cold weather, heat will be everyone’s first priority.  But how will you heat your home?  Don’t worry about heating the entire home, concentrate on one room.  The primary living area you will be using during the duration of the event.  If you are lucky, you may have a fireplace.  Wood or gas, either will provide you enough heat to make the event tolerable and may provide you a cooking source.  Make sure your fireplace is in good working order.  You can do this by having it inspected at least once year.  Fireplaces are great and can provide the needed heat source, but what if you don’t have one?

If you are not lucky enough to have a fireplace, you may be in for a cold time.  However, there are something’s you can do to keep yourself and your family warm.

Personnel Warming:

  • Dress in layers: Always start your layers with cotton closest to the skin.  This will help to keep away any moisture build-up.
  • Cover your Head:  You lose the most heat through your head.  Cover it up and you will be warmer.
  • Conserve Energy:  Minimize your movements as much as possible.  Moving burns calories and calories keep you warm.
  • Buddy Up: Share your body heat with others. Sharing blankets will combine your heat.

Shelter Heating:

  • Confinement:  Confine yourself and others to one room.  200 square feet is a lot easier to heat than 500 square feet.
  • Cover Entryways: Put up blankets over doors and windows.  You may want to hang a blanket over the window so that it can be moved to let direct sunlight in.
  • Seal up any Drafts:  Seal any drafts that may exist including around doors and windows.
  • Stay off the Floor:  Ensure you put layers between you and the floor, especially when sleeping.

Once you have some way to get warm, even a little, there are a couple of more tasks you will be concerned with.  Feeding yourself and other is very important when in this situation.  You burn a lot of calories when in extreme cold.  You have to ensure that your caloric intake is higher than what you are burning.  Try to eat several meals a day to make sure you caloric intake is maintained.

You will also have to ensure your home is protected.  There are several things to be taken cares of that normally are no big deal.

  • Keep your pipes from freezing:  Let your faucets drip.  If your water heater is electric, let the hot water drip also.  The moving water will keep your pipes from freezing.
  • Seal any Drafts:  Again seal those drafts.  Keeping the cold out will help keep you warm.
  • Move frozen food outside:  Move all your frozen food outside to keep it frozen.  If the items in your refrigerator begin to go bad move them to a cold area as well until you consume them or until they go bad.
  • Melt Snow:  If your pipes do freeze, you can melt snow for water to use for sanitation needs.  You may not want to drink this water, but if you do boil it first.  This will depend on where you live.  Move the snow inside in a five gallon bucket to melt by your heat source.  Pour the water in the toilet once it’s been used.

What other items do we need?  As good prepper you may have some of this items already.  But here is a short list anyway:

  • Solar power chargers: For cell phones and other battery powered devise’s that you may need.
  • Hand cranked Radio and Flashlights
  • Candles:  For lighting and as an alternative heat source (See candle stoves)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Manual Can opener.
  • Bottled water.
  • Chapstick – Trust me on this one.
  • Blankets and warm clothing.
  • A camping stove or grill with plenty of fuel. The stove can also be used as a heat sources.
  • Matches.  The more the better.
  • Prescription medications.
  • First Aid kit or Medical kit.
  • A shovel to dig out your entryways and vehicle

Again, this is just a small listing of items you may need.  The important thing is you begin to prepare long before you find yourself in this situation.

With a little advance thought and preparedness you can make it through an ice storm a little worse for wear.  If you cover the basics before the storm hits you will be better able to provide yourself and your family with the items needed to make it through.  Though it may be an uncomfortable period of time for you and yours, you will be able to cover the basics.  Remember, it’s better to have and not need it as to not have it and need it.

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