Winter Storm Preparedness

After last month’s winter storm, it became painfully obvious that we Georgians are woefully unprepared for a weather disaster. That doesn’t have to be the case though, if you are willing to spend just a few minutes and a few dollars to prepare for such an event.

FEMA’s Ready.gov website offers a great overview of what you need to prepare for all kinds of disasters. For the type of weather we’re expecting over the next few days, a few things in your trunk and in your house will help you make it whether you’re stuck at home or stuck in your car.

For your home, be sure to have plenty of blankets, bottled water, flashlights, and shelf-stable food in case the power or water supply are out of service. If you are lucky enough to have natural gas or propane service at your house, you’ll fare better than those who are all electric. If you do lose power, keep in mind you can move perishable foods from the refrigerator to the freezer (especially a chest freezer) to prolong their freshness. A battery powered or crank powered radio is great for keeping up with the news without draining your cellphone’s precious battery life — remember, you can’t charge the phone when the power is out.

For your car, it’s good to have a “bug out” bag. In this bag should be any essential day-to-day items. Start with a change of clothes including undergarments, an extra pair of socks, a blanket and small pillow, your usual toiletries including toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, and any other personal needs. Don’t forget a spare cellphone charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, bottled water and snack foods (granola bars are a great, long-lasting source of energy), tissues, and some form of entertainment that isn’t powered by electricity, like a book or deck of cards, to help pass the time if you are stuck at a stranger’s house or at work.

Another good item to keep in your trunk during the winter months is ice melt. This material is used to make sidewalks, roads, and stairs passable when covered with ice. You can use just about any variety, and it doesn’t take much to get your car unstuck. You can get ice melt at just about any hardware store, and for the Dallas and Hiram areas, you can get it at a steep discount at A&M Office Supply in Dallas (full disclosure: My day job is there, but I don’t get any perks from mentioning it; just passing along the savings). If you are stuck on a patch of ice, sprinkle some ice melt around your powered wheels. Most cars are front wheel drive, trucks and large SUVs are usually rear wheel drive. Give the ice melt a few minutes to do its thing, then very carefully drive forward if you have traction.

This is far from an exhaustive list of things you can do to prepare for a bad weather event, but I hope it gives you a good start. Stay safe, and remember: If you don’t have to drive on the icy roads, don’t do it! You could save a life.