In an old didactic tale, a young laborer interviews for a job as a farm hand. The owner asks, “Why should I hire you?” The laborer responds, “because I can sleep through a storm.” Without clarification the young man is hired. Some time later a night-time storm unexpectedly shakes the farm. The distressed owner wakes from his bed and patrols the various elements of the farm to find every needful thing has already been prepared. At this moment the owner realizes the meaning and value behind the new hire’s self-aggrandizement; those who prepare for inevitable emergencies, feel at peace during the event.
Like the young labor, everyone has the ability to prepare for the storms ahead. While this story might inspire metaphorical contemplation, this article is concerned with what homeowners can literally do to prepare for winter storms.
The first step is to prepare an emergency kit. This kit should have three subdivisions, one part prepared for a power outage, one for loss of heat, and one for the inability to buy food and water. The kit items could include:
Loss of Electricity
- Flashlight - With extra batteries
- Candles - With matches
- A propane powered camping stove - This is a necessity if you have an electric stove
- A printed paper with emergency phone numbers
- A first aid kit - include prescription medications
- An external battery for charging electronics, like a cell phone
Loss of heat
- Extra blankets, pure and simple - If storage space is a problem, consider silver emergency blankets. Each occupies about as much space a man’s wallet, they are very warm, waterproof, and affordable ($2 each)
- Cotton long johns - These help in two ways. They will keep you warm and their novelty will fill youngsters with jubilation.
- Dry firewood, if your home has a fireplace.
- Propane space heaters work well, but have a reputation for causing problems, ie. tipping over and burning things, gas leaks, or carbon monoxide. But used properly there should not be too much cause for concern.
Loss of food or water
Regularly scheduled trips to the grocery store often become impossible in a storm.
- Store bottled water.
- Canned items such as soup or beans keep for years and are eaten hot, which helps bolster spirits in cold weather.
- Grains like rice, dried pasta, or popcorn also store well and do a good job of filling hungry stomachs.
With these supplies on hand, one will gain the same ability as the young farm hand. They will be able to rest peacefully in the midst of a storm, comforted by the knowledge that every needful thing has already been prepared. Winter weather negatives turn to positives, and what could have been scary becomes exciting. One might even find the moments when emergency supplies are needed become some of the happiest and warmest memories in family lore.
On a final note, remember that once the storm ends and utilities function again, snow removal awaits. This task in not unfamiliar to those born and bred in winter climates. Neither is the peculiar shuffle-slide walk that helps cross compacted snow and ice. However, what winter natives sometimes forget is that despite its common place, slippery ice can be dangerous to the elderly or inexperienced. Therefore, remember to shovel public sidewalks and shake ice melt on hazardous areas like stairs or sloped driveways.