How to Survive a Winter Ice Storm
Ice Storm Damage
Homeowners in the Southeastern United States are accustomed to winter Ice Storms and have learned to cope with them quite well over the years, but it seems with Global Warming and weather patterns changing with every passing winter, these Ice Storms have spread to the interior of the country more frequently. Many places that are accustomed to heavy snowfall on a regular basis are really ill prepared when it comes to Ice Storms because they really have no idea of the damage these storms can cause, let alone how to prepare for them. This helpful "How To" guide may help you prepare for the devastation involved before one of these storms strike close to home.
One of the main concerns with Ice Storms would have to be the wide-spread power outages that occur due to ice laden trees and power lines. These power outages may last for several days or even weeks in some remote areas depending on the severity of the storm system. Early preparedness is the key to surviving the devastation these storms always leave in their wake. Here are a few key questions you need to ask yourself to help you prepare for the worst case scenario.
How will a long term power outage effect my:
1. Food Storage
2. Cooking Ability
3. Water Supply
4. Home Heating
Food Storage of frozen and refrigerated goods is not really a problem unless the power is out for 24 hours or longer. By keeping your freezer door closed, the accumulated cold from frozen foods will help keep these items from spoilage. Keeping a full ice tray in the freezer even if your refrigerator is equipped with an ice maker will make a helpful temperature indicator which allows you to check on the temperature at a moments glance. As long as the ice remains frozen, your frozen foods are safe... Refrigerated items such as milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc., should be used at your earliest convenience. Items such as eggs and block or sliced cheese hold a longer shelf life and won't need to be used as quickly. In some instances, a large cooler may work as a makeshift refrigerator, by simply placing the items in the cooler and setting them outside if the temperature remains below freezing during the power outage. This works well for refrigerated items, but frozen items need to remain in the freezer for as long as possible.
Your Cooking Ability will become a factor if you have an electric stove, so be prepared to use alternative cooking methods. Perhaps a supply of canned meats, peanut butter, crackers, and various canned items that can be eaten straight from the can will help you through these tough times. Just be sure you have a manual can opener... Also, using paper plates and utensils will avoid having a lot of dirty dishes if you don't have the water to wash them. Camp stoves such as a Coleman Stove work well in situations such as these to help you prepare foods that may spoil due to power outages. When used indoors, always make sure you have proper ventilation by opening a window slightly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Utilizing you gas grill in times like these is a great help too, but never use one indoors. Many deaths related to Ice Storms are due to people trying to stay warm with gas grills and other items that aren't designed to be used indoors. You risk carbon monoxide poisoning as well as the threat of burning down your home ! So be smart when it comes to cooking.
Having an ample Water Supply is key to survival in a Winter Ice Storm. People that live near cities and have city water may not be effected unless the power is out to the water plant, Many water treatment plants have generators to avoid outages of their services, so you may not be in need of water storage, but keeping a few gallons of drinking water stored in the pantry is still a good idea... Just in case... Rural residents that depend on well water will be effected by power outages and need to take measures to prepare for the worst. Saving gallon milk jugs by washing them thoroughly after emptying is an inexpensive way to store water in times of emergency. Keep plenty of them stored in an out of the way place ( 20 or 30 ) to be ready to fill when the threat of bad weather approaches. This water will be used for cooking, drinking, and personal hygiene to help make your unpleasant experience a little more comfortable. Utilizing your bathtub by filling it with water is an excellent way to have plenty of water to flush your toilet with. Simply dip the water out of the tub and fill the tank on your toilet after each flush to avoid a smelly mess from long term power outages.
Home Heating is a major concern for many when there is a long term power outage, so having an alternative heat source is always a good idea. Small kerosene heaters seem to work well in times like these. There are very few problems you will encounter if you have a new heater, but for those of you that have older kerosene heaters, it may be a good idea to have them serviced to make sure you have a good wick installed and it is in proper working order well before the threat of any storm approaches. These heaters work well for heating one or two rooms in the home, so those of you with larger families may need to gather the family in the heated rooms and close off the rest of the house. Installing a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in the rooms you plan to heat with any alternative source is always a very good idea, as well as a battery operated smoke detector. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and very dangerous, so be prepared but be safe... One of the leading causes of death due to Ice Storms is carbon monoxide poisoning because people were just trying to keep warm.
Lighting will be essential during power outages, but it is probably the easiest problem to deal with. Keeping flashlights and fresh batteries is simple enough to move around through the dark recesses of your home, but for rooms you plan to weather the storm in, room lighting is much more comfortable. Inexpensive kerosene lamps work really well in situations like these as well as a Coleman gas lanterns. Just about everyone has candles, but these put of very little light and the open flame is very dangerous around any flammable materials. Many discount and hardware stores keep a supply of glass kerosene lamps with glass globes that are an excellent yet safe form of alternative lighting. Its always a good idea to have a few of them on hand in times of emergency.
To help you prepare for long term power outages, take inventory of your situation as well as your supplies. Making a list of items you have in stock as well as items you need to buy will help you prepare for incumbent weather of any kind. The key to survival in situations that call for alternative means is to be smart about your choices. Proper ventilation and safe lighting are the two main concerns when dealing with long term power outages, and a little planning goes a long way when it comes to how comfortable and safe your next experience with an Ice Storm will be.