Preparing for Snowstorms and Winter Emergencies

Posted on December 20, 2016 by kerri

Having an emergency kit doesn’t just pertain to your car (although you should have one stored in your car at all times!), and it goes beyond having a first aid kit—although that is important. While much of North America has been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures into the late Fall, it’s important to be prepared so that you’re not running around when the first snowstorm of the year takes hold! Instead, you’ll be able to stay cozy in your home to watch the news reports about how your local stores are all out of bottled water and canned food. (I’m sure that doesn’t just happen on TV!)

Here’s what you need to make an emergency kit that’s got you covered when the unexpected strikes:
  • Extra medications. Get an extra set of meds from the pharmacy. When you refill your supply each month or three (depending on how you roll), exchange the new set for the one in your emergency kit. This will ensure that your meds are not expired, but that the “fresher” ones haven’t gone to waste. If you use insulin or another medication that may need to be refrigerated after opening, work out how you will keep your medication at the right temperature if power goes out. If you use epinephrine, any other injectable meds, or inhalers, keep these items room temperature-ish if you are without power by keeping them close to your body, such as in a pocket or under a light hoodie. Extra epinephrine auto-injectors are always good to have on hand, but in the case of your emergency kit, if there is a storm and it takes longer for to reach a hospital, those extras could be a lifesaver.
    Extra glasses may also be important depending on your vision.
  • Food supplies. Have at least a 72 hour (3 day) supply of food on hand. Remember to include infant food and formula, as well as food for any special dietary requirements that family members may have. Non-perishable, ready-to-eat items, such as protein and dried fruit bars, canned foods that don’t require cooking and a can opener, cereal, nuts and non-perishable nut butters, canned or boxed juice, non-perishable milk (such as tetra packs), and even candy bars, are staple additions to an emergency preparedness kit. [1] Other items could include puddings and applesauce, that can be enjoyed by people of various ages from babies to older adults. Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
    Remember your pets when preparing your emergency kit! Pet foods should also be kept in 3 day supplies.
    Paper or plastic cups, plates and utensils for the foods in your kit should be included.
  • Water. Remember that your water pipes may become frozen or the water supply may otherwise be affected. [2] The CDC recommends having 1 gallon of water per person in your family, and having enough for 3 days. If you have pets, their water needs must be accounted for, too! The CDC recommends having 1 gallon of water extra for pets for 3 days. [2] A family of four with a dog, for example, will need 13 gallons of water on hand. [2] Bottled water may be easiest, but you can also fill up clean containers of safe tap-water. Another idea is to use the jugs that would be placed on a water cooler, with a pump mechanism (these retail for about $8). Most jugs contain about 5 gallons of water, and can be filled either at a fill station in your neighbourhood or with simple tap or boiled tap water.
  • First aid kit. Read more about first aid kits here. Include a first aid manual as well. [1]
  • Radio that is battery or crank powered, and batteries. Have both a normal radio as well as a Weather Radio on hand.
  • Flashlight and batteries. Crank flashlights also exist. Either way choose one that will provide enough light. Battery operated tap-lights may also be useful. Remember, you may have a flashlight in your cellphone, but consider if this is how you want to use your phone’s battery power!
  • Hand/face wipes (moist towelettes). These are a staple for me no matter what, but putting a few containers of these in your emergency kit is an easy way to keep your hands clean without water.
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, feminine hygiene products (and other things you would definitely run out of when a storm was brewing! 😉
  • Bleach. Can be used for both cleaning and in smaller amounts disinfecting water.
  • Garbage bags/ties.
  • Cell phone chargers. Consider backup battery packs. I have one that if charged would easily keep my phone powered up for 72 hours and then some! A separate one that remains fully charged may be a good choice for your emergency kit, as you never know when you might lose power! A solar charger can also be a good idea, but be mindful that these are often slow! [1]
  • Copies of identification, copies of financial and insurance information, and cheques/cash. [1]
  • A warm sleeping bag or blankets for each person, as well as a complete change of clothing. (Adding one extra sleeping bag may not be a bad idea in case one becomes dirty or a guest happens to be at your home when a winter storm hits!)
  • Candles, matches, fire extinguisher [1]
  • Notebook, pencil [1] (and sharpener – pens may freeze!)
  • Power-free activities for kids [1]
And of course, remember to keep your medical ID bracelet or necklace on in a winter emergency. When things are already chaotic, this can create more peace-of-mind for you and those around you!

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