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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tip of the Week…Winter Storms

With eleven states under a state of emergency today due to severe winter storms it is a good time to review some of the best winter survival tips. Please add your own tips here or in our yahoo group. For those of you not living in these states please send an email to anyone you know in the Midwest or on the east coast who are in the path or snow and ice storms today and through the weekend. There are already thousands without power and thousands more will be before the weekend is over. Now is a great time to send info to those who may have fought you on the idea of preparedness and to introduce them to some basic, easy to understand and easy to implement information. There are already 100,000 without power in Oklahoma alone.
Winter storm can be absolutely beautiful but they can be, and are often, deadly.
1. I have said it before but it is worth repeating, consider what you would be doing tomorrow that takes electricity and do it today. Get caught up on the laundry, for example. You may believe you have more than enough to make it through an  outage but power outages can be much longer than just a day or two, just because you have never experienced one does not mean they don’t happen, and happen often. If your family is like mine you know there are probably socks and other items that have missed the laundry basket. Find them and catch up today.
2. Think about lighting. Collect your flashlights and make sure you have batteries for them. Get out the glow sticks and place one in every room. I hang mine around the door knob where they are easy to find if the lights suddenly go out. Glow sticks are perfect for a night light and don’t run down the batteries in the flashlight while you are sleeping. Do not rely on candles. They can be very dangerous. Never light a candle and leave the room and never place a candle in a candle stick. Use a glass container to hold candles, consider those you normally use outside. If you have solar out door lighting let them get charged while you have sun and bring them in at night as another way to provide a night light and still preserve batteries.
3. Keep your home warm while you have heat. Now is the time to place towels or other fabric under doors or in window sills to keep out the cold air. When the power fails you will want the house nice and warm and you will want to be able to retain that heat as long as possible. Close doors to all rooms in your home and hang a sheet or blanket to block off hallways which steal the heat.
4. If you have a fireplace now is the time to make sure you have a supply of wood in a dry place which is easy to access and as close to the house as possible.
5. If you don’t have a gas stove you will need to prepare for warm food. Get out your camp stove and make sure you have fuel for it. Move the barbecue inside the garage. You will not want to use a barbecue inside the house but it can be used inside the garage IF you take the car out of the garage and keep the garage door open when it is in use and until it is completely cooled down. You may also want to place the barbecue just outside the garage, cook, and them move it back into the garage after it has cooled down. If you live in an apartment, or don’t have any of these items you can make a simple stove.
Take a number ten can or large coffee can, remove labels and wash it well. Using a large nail or a church key can opener poke holes in the side of the can, both 2 inches from the bottom and an inch from the top, be generous. You now have a stove. Light a candle, one contained in a metal or glass container, and invert the can and place over the candle. If the candle does not stay lit then you need more air holes. Use the sink, the stove top, or tile floor for this, never place this stove on a flammable surface. The top of the can is now your cooking surface. A small frying pan or pot will heat up, in fact the stove itself will get very hot so never let a child use this stove and always use a pot holder when moving or removing the pot.
Warm food and drinks are very important during a cold weather power outage.
6. Speaking of hot food. Place a meal in the crock pot today and every day during the storms. The heat will help to warm the room and if the power goes out you will be ready with your first hot meal.
7. If the power does out seal your windows by placing fabric over the window creating a pocket of air between the glass and the window molding. This air pocket will help keep cold air out and will help keep warm air warm as it will not be in contact with the glass which would quickly cool it. Get the mylar blankets out of your 72 hour kits and use these to place over windows. The beauty of mylar blankets is that they are easily held by duct tape and they let in the light while creating the air pocket and providing the protection.
8. Check on the elderly or handicapped in your family or circle of friends. Be sure they have a warm place to go and a way to get there. Remember when the electricity goes down so do portable phone so you may not be able to contact them later. As everyone turns to cell phone to communicate the lines will become overwhelmed.
9. Continuing that theme, get out the old phone now and plug it in. Phones which plug directly into the wall and not into a base station will work during a power outage.
10. Place a do not open sign on the door of the fridge and freezer when the power fails. Foods will remain frozen for up to four days if your freezer is full, only two days if it is not. Make a list before you open the door, get out items quickly, and close the door. Our grandkids still remember the four day power outage during an ice storm in North Carolina and eating chicken nuggets that mom heated in a frying pan, and ice cream for breakfast. They were three and five.
11. Stick it out together. If the power goes out choose one room and stay in that room together. Your body heat will help keep the room warmer than if you all headed to your own bedrooms to curl up under a quilt. Bring all those quilts and sleeping bags into one room and hang out together. At night set up your tent in that room or make a tent under a table, like we did when we were kids, and you will sleep warmer.
There is so much more but that is a start. Help me get the word out and please add your own tips.

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