Monday, September 09, 2013

Winter Wonderland: Be Prepared When Blizzards Strike

The winter of 2012-13 saw a powerful storm system drop several inches of snow in the Northeast and on the Plains and cause tornadoes in the Southern states. The storm is blamed for 12 deaths and widespread power outages. Though winter officially arrives in late December (but, unofficially, as early as October), far too many people fail to take the minimal steps to ensure safety in severe weather.

Frozen Car

Winterize Your Car

Though driving should be avoided when visibility is limited and road conditions are compromising, most people must still drive to work or school. Get your oil changed in October or November to replace your summer oil with a lighter-weight lubricant that will move through the engine faster in frigid weather.

A good service station will check all other fluids as well, particularly the coolant, for proper levels and leaks. Snow tires can be pricey, so if that's out of your budget, purchase a set of removable chains and leave them in the trunk. A flashlight, shovel, scraper, jumper cables, blankets and water should be part of a car's emergency kit, in case you become stranded for an extended period of time. You may be eligible for a quick cash loan to help cover the emergency expenses associated with vehicle winterization.

Winterize Your Home

Falling trees, power outages and snow drifts can make being at home during a storm almost as dangerous as driving a car. A winterized home is equipped with the necessary items to sustain your family in a worst-case scenario. Gasoline for generators can be stored in a cool, dry place for more than a year, as long as a fuel stabilizer is added.

An alternative heat source, such as a small propane or kerosene heater, should also be kept on hand. Burning any fuel indoors, however, will produce carbon monoxide, so detectors should be installed, especially in sleeping areas. An emergency supply kit should contain a small, battery-operated radio (and batteries) to listen to weather reports, non-perishable food items, a first-aid kit and flashlights. Don't forget water – the National Consumers League recommends one gallon per day per person. A land telephone line can still connect you to the Internet via offshore dial-up providers, for times when broadband fails.

Get a Plan

Schools and workplaces have fire and tornado drills to ensure a safe and orderly environment during these emergency situations. Families should borrow from this practice to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for during a winter storm, especially if it breaks out while members are in the middle of their daily commutes. Agree now on a meeting place and communication system, and designate an out-of-town friend or family member as the emergency contact in case local communication networks are not fully functional.


Jessica is a young writer from sunny Florida who enjoys learning and writing about a myriad of topics. When she's not glued to her laptop you can find her running the trails with her Great Dane, Charlie. Follow her journey on Twitter and Google+.

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