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winter prep

  • T-Rex Spotted Shoveling Snow During Blizzard: How People Avoided Cabin Fever During the East Coast Storm

    During last weekend’s East Coast blizzardT-Rex Shovels Snow GIF - Cabin Fever, 50 people died, a quarter of a million lost power and hundreds of accidents were reported. But for most people, the blizzard was simply a time to stay inside or shovel snow. They managed to keep busy. One dressed in a T-rex costume to shovel snow, and another dressed up in a panda costume and challenged a real panda to a “snow battle.” Others skied and snowboarded down New York City streets or caught up on TV and movies. An enterprising Brooklyn, N.Y., resident built an igloo then put it up for rent on AirBNB. A few crazy swimmers practiced outside in Speedos ™. Many people had epic adventures with snowballs. One couple got married and another had a baby.

    One thing no one mentioned they did was prepare for the next storm or disaster. However, if basic needs are met, a snowbound day can be an ideal time to review disaster preparations and make a few more. Here are a few ideas.

    Financial preparation might be just as important to well-being as physical preparation. Last weekend, Washington Post financial columnist Michelle Singletary suggested using the blizzard to do a budget. She even provided a link to free budget templates.

    It’s especially useful to prepare a budget now because, as she pointed out, the 2016 tax season just began and taxpayers must pull out financial documents anyway.

    While all those financial documents are out, pull out insurance information too. Find out what deductibles are in case of things like roof damage. Since most homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover floods, consider flood insurance. In Cape May, New Jersey, one restaurant owner said his restaurant flooded “worse than (Hurricane) Sandy.” Melting snow and blocked gutters can also cause flooding, even in non-flood-prone areas.

    Empty Shelves - Cabin FeverEven with advance warning of storms, stores still have a hard time keeping enough food and supplies in stock, because they must rely on suppliers’ schedules and they don’t have large back rooms to store things. So it’s a good idea to keep short-term food storage on hand. Look at emergency supplies already in the house and consider investing in a few more. Despite traditional suggestions, stocking up on bread, milk, and eggs right before a snowstorm may not be the best idea, especially if a power outage shuts down the refrigerator.

    Thanks to online shopping, it’s possible to order emergency supplies even during a major winter storm. Emergency Essentials has sales for items like winter sleeping bags, hot chocolate, flashlights, water storage and tents.

    Finally, winter snowstorms can help people get to know their neighbors – which, in addition to being a good way to make friends, can help if major weather events turn severe. Before the snowstorm, news crews bumped into Alex Ovechkin, a top winger and captain for hockey’s Washington Capitals, getting fuel so he could plow his neighbors’ driveways. A “Star Wars”-themed snowball fight advertised on Facebook brought out hundreds of people in Washington, D.C.

    Even during a major winter storm, it’s possible to prepare for the next one. And the next one’s coming. A smaller storm crawling up the East Coast may bring rain and snow this weekend. Another major winter storm developing off the northwestern U.S. is forecast to bring winter weather to the Rockies and Great Plains for Groundhog Day.

    - Melissa

     

    How are you preparing for the next winter storm? And how do you plan on combating cabin fever?

     

    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image2 - Cabin Fever

  • What We Learned: The Historic Blizzard 2016 Took Its Toll on the East

    Sledding Down the Steps - ABC News Sledding down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial - via ABC News

    The eastern winter storm has come and gone, and it was an even bigger whopper than meteorologists feared. It dumped more than two feet of snow up and down the eastern seaboard, breaking snowfall records (it just missed breaking the New York City record by one-tenth of an inch). At least 250,000 people lost power and more than 50,000 remained in darkness Sunday.

    It wreaked havoc with travel plans. It caused cancellation of more than 12,900 airline flights from the New England to Florida. Runways at Dulles and Reagan National airports, two of Washington D.C.’s largest, stayed closed Sunday, and flights were still being canceled for Monday. New York City shut down public transportation and banned road travel, as did other major cities.

    "Historical snow storm. Please be patient, it will take a while for clean-up – especially small streets," tweeted Baltimore's Transportation Department, according to USA Today.

    Despite travel bans, hundreds of accidents were reported. Two college sports teams, along with many other vehicles, were stranded for a day on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Hundreds more cars were stranded overnight on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 75 in Kentucky after accidents closed the road. Even President Obama’s motorcade got caught in storm traffic. At least 30 people died, more than half from automobile accidents. Some died from carbon monoxide poisoning in buried cars whose tailpipes were blocked.

    With all this in mind, here’s a reminder of some things you can do to prepare for travel trials.

    If you’re planning to fly to or from a storm-affected area, closely watch the weather. This storm was forecast for a week, so cancellations started days early. With enough lead time, you might be able to change your flight plans beforehand. Airlines usually issue travel waivers to allow passengers to change flights without penalties.

    Don’t leave for the airport until you’re sure your flight is actually leaving. Web site FlightAware tracks delays and cancellations.

    Duquesne men's basketball team - Blizzard 2016 It took the Duquesne men's basketball team almost 30 hours to get home from Virginia - via Duquesne Men's Basketball

    The adventures of the Duquesne University men’s basketball team, as reported in USA Today, illustrates several aspects of being prepared for winter travel. The team bus got stuck for a day while traveling home to Pittsburgh after a Friday basketball game in Virginia.

    First, keep a full gas tank. When the players’ bus got stuck, it had three-quarters of a tank left. That meant the bus had heat and power. It also meant the players could recharge their phones. Ready.gov suggests adding ways to communicate to your emergency kit, like a battery powered radio or a phone or emergency flares or a distress flag (if you don’t have a way to charge a phone, this story from USA Today gives tips about how to make its battery last longer).

    Second, keep some emergency supplies in your vehicle. After emergency workers cleared the road enough for the bus to get through, players had to shovel it out. According to the USA Today story, the players had to use empty pizza boxes and plastic garbage cans to clear the way. And after they got the bus out, they didn’t go 300 yards before their bus got stuck again and players had to push it out. A little sand and a shovel, as recommended by ready.gov, might have been useful.

    Third, make sure you’ve got food and water. The players had bought food at a convenience store right before they got stuck. However, after most of a day in "a big stretch of nothing," as Duquesne coach Jim Ferry told USA TODAY Sports, food was running low. They had water because a local fire department brought water to stranded vehicles.

    The team tried to arrange for pizza delivery to any nearby point, but could only get one pizza place to even consider it. Finally, some emergency workers gave a few of them a lift to a grocery store, where they bought food for themselves and a bus full of middle school students that was stuck next to them.

    Fortunately, the team eventually made it home. Members of a family in New Jersey didn’t. The father was trying to dig out his car while his wife and children, ages 1 and 3, waited inside the running vehicle.

    They didn’t realize the tailpipe was blocked with snow, which sent carbon monoxide back into the vehicle. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless poisonous gas produced by burning fossil fuel. The mom and 1-year-old died, and the 3-year-old remains hospitalized.

    If you get trapped in a vehicle during a snowstorm, run the vehicle sparingly and please make sure the tailpipe stays clear.

    --Melissa

     

    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image - Blizzard 2016

  • Make Sure You Have These 7 Things Before the Next Snow Storm

    There’s a storm a-coming… So what are you doing to prepare?

    One of the best parts about snow storms is that we usually get prior warning before it comes and dumps who-knows-how-much white stuff all over us. Winter storms can knock out power for days or even weeks, grocery stores can be cleaned out the day before, and roads are turned into skating rinks. There are plenty of other hazards associated with snow storms, and once they arrive, the time to prepare is pretty much over. Fortunately, there’s still time!

    So, before the next big storm pays you a visit, what should you make sure you have? Let’s have a look at the really important stuff.

     

    Water

    Let’s face it, water is probably the most important part of prepping. If your water pipes burst or water becomes inaccessible for any other reason, you’ll be glad you have a store of water that will last you at least three days, more if possible.

    Water isn’t just for drinking. Of course, you’ll want to bathe or wash your hands or dishes…maybe even flush the toilet! Having at least one gallon of water per person per day will let you stay healthily hydrated, and give you enough water for basic sanitation.

     

    Food

    Humans need to eat, and if you’re reading this, my guess is you fall under that category. Make sure you have enough food for three days. Apples are a great food to have during emergencies. According to a CNN health article, not only are apples a fantastic source of many essential nutrients, but they also have a water content of 84%. That means apples can help keep you hydrated even when water is difficult to come by.

    FN_I115 Freeze-dried ice cream is out of this world!

    Freeze-dried fruits and vegetable, meats and full entrees are another great resource. The freeze-drying process retains nearly all of the original nutrients of the food, unlike dehydrated food which loses nearly half its original nutrients. Freeze-dried food is ideal, because you can buy it today and let it sit on your shelf for up to 25 years! This way, if a storm does come on you unannounced, you’ll already have fresh fruit and veggies and hearty meals stored away, so while you may be in the middle of a disaster situation, you’ll be eating just like you would (dare I say better, even?) if it had never happened.

    FEMA recommends having some sort of comfort food on hand. This can be whatever helps soothe you the best. My personal preference is chocolate. Others might be ice cream. While ice cream is difficult to store if the power’s out, freeze-dried ice cream can sit on the shelf and be perfectly good (and you can feel like an astronaut while you eat it, too).

     

    Sanitation

    Body wipes, dust masks, and hand sanitizer all have their place during an emergency. If the water’s off, body wipes might be the only way to bate. Likewise, hand sanitizer could be your only option to wash your hands after changing a dirty diaper.

     

    Infant Care

    Which brings me to the next category: babies. If you have young ones, will you have enough diapers to get you through until you can venture outside again? What about baby formula, or baby food? Plan ahead so that if going to the store becomes impossible, your younglings will still be taken care of.

     

    Light and Heat

    If the power goes out, so will your lights, and so will your furnace. Make sure you at least have enough blankets to stay warm, but also consider a portable propane heater (make sure it’s safe to run indoors). Heaters like these can make your living conditions a whole lot more comfortable.

    CK-H800-Portable-Buddy This Big Buddy heater is your best buddy when it's cold and you need heat.

    At the least, make sure you have candles for light. The sun sets pretty early in the winter, which means it gets dark faster, too. Having candles can turn your home from a gloomy dungeon to a nice, romantic getaway (even though that “getaway” may have been forced upon you). Check your flashlights and make sure they have fresh batteries. Hand-crank lights and other light sources are always a good idea to have around. Candles can only do so much, but long-lasting lanterns that don’t require electricity (such as these ones from Goal Zero) can bring bright light to your blacked-out home

     

    Fuel

    Make sure the gas tank in your car is topped off before the storm hits. If you need to get anywhere and the service station is out of commission, you'll be glad you did. If you have other gas tanks, such as propane for your grill, make sure you have a full tank as well, just in case it becomes your only option for cooking.

     

    Entertainment

    Let’s face it, you’re going to get bored quickly if you’re not prepared. The TV obviously won’t work without power, and your laptop can only run for so long before it needs a charge. So what’s a person to do? There are some good options to keep the boredom at bay.

    Reading is one of them. Be sure you have a light source handy (see above) so you can read once it gets dark. Reading a good book will not only make the time fly by, but you’ll be doing something that’s very enjoyable. If you need some recommendations, I’ll post some at the bottom of this article. I’ve got just what you need J

    Survive! Board Game Geek A thrilling game of Survive! is a great way to pass the time - Image via Board Game Geek

    Board games are another excellent way to pass the time. I love tabletop games. They are a great way to bring your family together for a good time. There are so many wonderful board games these days that you’ve probably never even heard of. By all means, bust out the Uno, Monopoly, and Risk (I love Risk), but again, if you would like some recommendations of fun games for you and your family (with some for everyone), I’ll make a list at the bottom of the post.

     

    Well, I’m sure there are other things not mentioned here that you would think obvious additions. By all means, please let us know in the comments what else you should prepare with!

     

     

    Book Suggestions

     

    Forbidden Island - via Dad's Gaming Addiction Play cooperatively as a family with Forbidden Island - Image via Dad's Gaming Addiction

    Board Game Suggestions

     

    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image2

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