This article applies to a “normal” large storm. That is, a nasty storm but not a potentially devastating storm such as a hurricane. You hear that a major storm is on the way. It will bring heavy winds and rain and may last a few days. You expect trees and branches to fall, roads my be blocked, and power lines could be affected. You will probably get power outages. How do you prepare?
You could lose power which means losing the ability to heat your house and cook. If you have gas then you may have heat or limited heat and you may not be able to cook. If you in an all electric house (like me) then you will have NO heat and NO stove. Here is a list of simple things that you can do to prepare for a storm.
- Charge Devices: Charge your portable devices such as mobile phones, tablet, spare rechargeable batteries, etc. If you have power NOW then charge these devices NOW.
- Clean: You have power NOW and you may need things like clean clothes and dishes when there is no power. If you have a pile of laundry and a sink of dirty dishes then clean them NOW. If you lose power you may not have hot water and you may need these. Cleaning takes very little time so do it NOW!
- Vehicle: Fill your vehicle with fuel. Large scale power outages can affect gas stations. While doing other chores be sure to fill your tank as a precaution.
- Warmth: Be sure that you can stay warm if your home heating system is off. Do you have warm clothes, blankets, and/or sleeping bags? If the temperature in your house were the same as the outside temperature could you stay warm? Be prepared to stay warm.
- Illumination: Do you have ways to generate light for several days? You can use battery powered lanterns and candles. Do you have enough spare batteries and ways to light candles? Before a major storm these items fly off store shelves. Make sure that these items are easily accessible. I worked in a retail store when we were threatened with a storm. We sold ALL of our lanterns and we had a very large lantern section. Do not wait until threatened with a storm to purchase illumination devices.
- Flashlight: Have a few good, bright, water-tight flashlights. You may have to examine your yard or home exterior at night. Test the flashlights and have plenty of spare batteries.
- Food: Be sure to have some emergency food ready. This can include ready-to-eat food (jerky, nuts, bars, fruit, etc.), canned food, camp food, etc. If the food requires cooking do you have a working stove and ample fuel? Test your stove before the storm strikes.
- Water: Have some emergency water ready. You should have at least one gallon of water per person per day. FEMA recommends having a three day supply of water per person.
- Secure: Secure any outside items that could blow in the wind or cause damage.
- Batteries: Before a storm was due I went to different stores as research. At our local outdoors store and the dollar store all D-cell batteries were gone. At a local supermarket they only had a few packages of D batteries left. The small 9v batteries, AA, and AAA batteries were in stock in all three places. If you have larger lanterns or other devices that use D-cells then be sure to have a supply of fully charged batteries.
Be prepared before the storm hits. Remember that coming storms can cause stores to sell-out of emergency items quickly. The first things to go are generators, battery powered lanterns, candles, and flashlights. You should have the basics in your emergency kit but, if not, them act quickly to get the supplies that you need. These items tend to disappear from store shelves very quickly in advance of a storm.
During the Storm
The storm hits and you are in the middle of it. What do you do? Here are some suggestions:
- Unplug devices that are sensitive such as computers, audio/visual equipment, etc. You could get voltage spikes in the power lines so unplug them to protect them. Large voltage spikes can pass through some of the less capable surge protectors so do NOT trust surge protectors in these situations.
- Stay indoors as much as possible. There may be bad road conditions, falling branches, and other dangers. In one windstorm I was driving down our major freeway and there were no trees close to the road. Without warning I heard what sounded like a large rock being dropped on my roof. It was a branch from a far away tree that hit my back windshield. The windshield was gone – not cracked or damaged but simply gone. The branch must have come from a tree hundreds of feet away.
- Do not use your mobile phone unless you have to. Preserve the battery power in your phone and keep the airways clear. There may be emergencies going on so save the airwaves for those emergency calls. If you have an emergency then, by all means, use your phone.
- If you have venture outside then choose roads that are less prone to falling debris.
- Heed the words of emergency and law enforcement personnel. If they tell you that a road is closed or dangerous then heed their warning. Nature does not discriminate and will kill or injure people equally and without prejudice.
- If the power is out avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer. The cold air trapped inside can preserve your food and opening the door allows some of that cold air to escape.
Choose the side of safety and error on the side of caution. Above all, stay safe.