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  • Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms

    1_28_15 Weathering the Worst of Winter StormsThe torrential blizzard predicted to bury New York City turned out to be just delightful snow flurries dusting the iconic Manhattan landmarks. For Boston and the rest of New England, however, Winter Storm Juno lived up to its headliner forecast, dumping 3 feet of snow and more before moving on.

    For every American living in snow country, however, Juno served as a wake-up call, reminding us that the best time to prepare for the "big one" is while the sun is shining, before dark clouds appear on the Weather Service radar and time is running out.

    These simple tips will help you get ready for the next time the snow piles up, the power goes out, the roads are closed, and help may be days away.

    Before the Storm...

    ...Put Together a 72-Hour Kit
    The first three days after a big storm are the toughest. With roads closed and walkways buried, running to the store is dangerous, if not impossible. In addition to paralyzing snow and ice, winter storms often cause widespread power outages and broken water pipes. So, a useful 72-hour kit should contain water, heat, light and communications, as well.
    Here is a short list of the types of things you'll likely need until you can venture out after a big winter storm:

    Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate. Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate.
    •  Three days of non-perishable foods like canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and freeze-dried meals
    • A manual can opener
    • Three days of water (at least three gallons per person)
    • First-aid kit, with essential prescription medicines
    • Flashlights, candles and light sticks
    • Cell phone, with hand-crank charger
    • Portable radio or NOAA weather radio
    • Extra radio and flashlight batteries
    • Baby-care items
    • Pet supplies
    • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
    • A fire extinguisher

    Keep in mind that if your workplace is a long commute from home, you'll need the same items at the office (minus baby and pet supplies, perhaps). Plus, keeping an Emergency Car Kit in your trunk will assure you're ready if weather conditions force you to wait for help along the roadside.

    Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage. Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage.

    ...Get Your House Ready

    A few regular home maintenance tasks can do more than just keep a neat home. They can also protect you and your family in the event of a big snowfall or ice storm, as well.

    Take time to see to the following:

    • Ice, snow and wind can snap tree limbs down onto the roof, windows and power lines. Trim away tree branches close to your home.
    • Keep rain gutters clean. Otherwise, snow and ice can build up and allow water to seep under the roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.
    • See that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working and store fresh batteries.
    • Have your chimney flue checked and cleaned, if necessary, to lessen the risk of fire.
    • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep out cold air.
    • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
    • Wrap pipes in insulating foam to keep them from freezing. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
    • Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.
    • Check your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

    ...Plan for Lights Out

    We all know that, even in the best of times, power outages are not uncommon. While the occasional unplanned candle-lit evening is a charming break from the routine, extended power outages particularly in stormy weather can present significant problems even dangers. These simple steps can further prepare your family for blackouts, whenever they occur:

    Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms3

    • Power sensing flashlights come on automatically when the power goes out. Plug-in a few around your home. Candles and light sticks should be a prep staple, as well.
    • Furnaces, even gas and oil-fired ones, cannot operate without electricity to power the blowers. An indoor rated kerosene or propane heater will keep living spaces livable.
    • Keep a bit of cash stashed in a safe place, since stores and other services (if they are open) will not be able to process credit and debit cards.
    • Make a practice of refilling your car's tank at the half-empty point. This assures you will have at least a tank half-full when electric gas pumps won't operate.
    • Store ice packs that can be moved into the fridge, or into a small cooler for meds.
    • Know how to release garage door openers so that you can manually open your garage.

    Juno reminds us that winter weather can be hard to forecast. But we can all predict that we'll each take our turn being caught in a dangerous storm. These few simple steps can mean the difference between frantically surviving and comfortably weathering your next winter storm.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Current Events, Survival, Winter

  • [INFOGRAPHIC]: The 12 Tools You Need for Survival

    12 Tools You Need For Survival

    Preparing for emergency situations and natural disasters may seem overwhelming—but it doesn't need to be. We’re here to make it as easy as possible. That’s why we've created this infographic: The 12 Tools You Need for Survival. It’s a simple roadmap to help you get all the gear you need to stay safe and healthy in a crisis.

    Whether you live on a dozen acres of your own land or in a studio apartment in the city, this list will help you gather just the right food, shelter, and supplies that make sense for you and your family.

    Click here or on the image above to see the full infographic.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: infographics, survival gear, Survival, tools

  • Predators on Primetime: Shark Week!

    Predators on Primetime: Shark Week

    It’s Shark Week! Also known in my house as “The Week Mom Won’t Go Near the Ocean or a Pool and Becomes Leery of Bathtubs.”

    I hate sharks. I hate them with a phobic intensity that makes me shudder when I walk by the trout aquarium at Cabela’s. I didn’t see Jaws until I was an adult, and even then I spent most of the movie looking down into my lap until the scary music stopped. So you can imagine how much I love headlines like this one:

    “Shark photo prompts closure of access to ocean off San Clemente.”

    While fishermen regularly report shark sightings (the predators are attracted by large amounts of fish), the photographic evidence spurred officials to action in this case. Though the beach was completely off limits for a couple of hours after the incident, caution signs remained posted—signs, one official noted, that did little to divert beachgoers.

    It’s true that shark attacks are relatively rare (check out this hilarious but accurate comparison chart of shark attacks to other potential catastrophes from the Florida Museum of Natural History). However, they’re a real enough threat that the governments of Cape Town, South Africa; Western Australia; and Hawaii all publish their own shark safety pages.

    Whether Shark Week has you glued to the TV or locked in your second-story bedroom, if you’re planning on spending any time in the ocean, it’s smart to know your “enemy.” National Geographic has a thorough article on “Shark Attack Tips,” that includes strategies for avoidance, what to do in case of an attack, and tips for helping a victim.

    It also de-bunks some shark myths (for example, if you see a group of dolphins it doesn’t mean there are no sharks in the area. Dolphins and sharks not only eat the same types of food, but some sharks even eat dolphins!), and helps us understand things from the big fish’s perspective (sharks see contrast well and interpret thrashing around as injured and easy prey).

    Of course, the best course of action is always to stay aware, stay educated, and stay within the boundaries set by those responsible for your safety (like local authorities and lifeguards). But it never hurts to practice a hard punch to the gills once in a while.

     

    Any shark stories out there? Come on, scare me!

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: shark week, shark, Survival

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