As I write this, a blizzard warning is in effect until 6:00 am on Sunday. Maryland, Virginia and the District have declared a state of emergency. This winter’s first storm is coming in and while social media has been all atwitter with posts about stocking up on beer and wine, here are the things you really do need when preparing your house for a winter storm.
No one wants to think about a situation any worse than simply being stuck inside for a couple of days binge watching “Last Man on Earth,” but what would happen if the high winds and heavy ice bring down a tree onto your home? What if a pipe freezes and breaks? You seriously need to know where the water shutoff valve is. And the emergency shut off valve for the gas. And yes, exactly which circuit breaker matches up to each part of your house.
Should the power go out, you’ll be happier and more comfortable with these items on hand.
Of course you need food and water and toilet paper. More specifically, you need food that doesn’t require heating – items such as canned goods, cereal, bread, fruits, veggies, nuts and energy bars. A good measure on the water is one gallon per person per day. Good luck finding any of these items if you didn’t buy them last weekend.
If you want to be able to open those delicious canned goods, have a manual can opener on hand. Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils cut down on the work of dish washing in frostbite inducing cold water.
Pull out the flashlights and fresh batteries and put them somewhere easily accessible. Lighting candles might be romantic, but it’s not going to provide you with quite enough light to steer clear of tripping over the dog. Plus, I hear walking around with fire sticks in hand causes hundreds of house fires during power outages. Sure, you’ll get some bright light and heat for a short while. However, roads will be slick and possibly impassable; fire trucks are not going to get there very quickly and then you’ll have nothing.
Dear Lord, what would we do without a fully charged cell phone? If the power goes out, you’ll only have a few hours of time left to keep updating your Facebook status. “It’s still snowing!” “Power is out! When will PEPCO fix the lines?!” “Out of chips now, how will I survive?!” So make sure you plug it in and keep it charged while you can.
It’s always smart to have a first-aid kit on hand, primarily in case you cut your hand fighting to open something with the manual can opener.
It’s going to be COLD and you’ll want to keep warm. Stock pile blankets and cold-weather clothing for each family member. If you have a fireplace and plan on using it, hopefully you’ve had the firebox and chimney or flue cleaned recently so you don’t have a fire spread beyond the fireplace or choke yourself by filling your house with smoke. See my comment above about the fire trucks.
You’re not the only one who needs to eat; so do the pets! It’ll only be a matter of hours before Cooper and Bella are eyeing to take you down like a wildebeest if you run out of their food or don’t have a manual can opener on hand. If they’re well fed, it’s more likely they’ll happily snuggle with you and you’ll stay warmer.
Lastly, regardless of whether your power goes out or not (keeping my fingers crossed for NOT), it would be wise to have a snow shovel at the ready. Most cities and towns in our area have ordinances about clearing sidewalks adjacent to your property. You may want to generously throw down some eco-friendly ice melt too. The person you save from slipping and falling may be yourself.
After the storm is over, if you decide you’ve had your fill of winter weather and never again want to be the one preparing your house for a winter storm, we can help you sell your house fast.