A common saying here in New England is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.” It’s true our weather is hard to predict and this winter alone we’ve had temps as high as in the 50’s to below zero.
But when the meteorologists report that a blizzard is imminent, most New Englanders know to respect the warnings and Mother Nature.
One of the most probable and most dangerous issues that come up during a blizzard is power losses. With overhead power lines and lots of trees in the way, high winds and heavy snow more often than not will take down the power. In below freezing temps, power outages can be extremely dangerous to you and your water pipes. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this week and in future winter storms.
1. Keep the water running! Water pipes tend to freeze in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (about -7 degrees Celsius). Prevent this by wrapping your interior pipes with foam insulation. If the temperature is dropping, leave your faucets running at a slow drip.
Run the cold water from the lowest point in the house, usually a laundry room sink or tub. Keep your drain clear of debris to prevent overflow or flooding.
The idea is to keep the water flowing constantly at a rate of about one gallon every four minutes. Do not run your hot water.
2. Layer Up! Next to the Blizzard Kit, keep a bag of warm clothes for each person in the household. If the lights are out, it will be hard to find that really warm turtle neck or a pair of warm socks or gloves…in the dark.
3. Stock a Blizzard Kit with the following: batteries, flash lights, battery operated radio/television, bottled water, toilet paper, nonperishable foods such as cereal or crackers, canned goods, a non electric can opener, a small cooler, candles, prescription medicines and any over-the-counter remedies you use regularly; and if you have young infants or toddlers – diapers, baby wipes, formula, baby food.
4. Then, stock a “Boredom” Kit, as well. Count on the power being out for at least a day or two and have some board games and a deck of cards on hand. An easily available activity kit next to the blizzard kit with arts and crafts for the kids is crucial for long periods of power loss – especially if there isn’t any television to distract them.
5. Charge all your devices. Now’s the time to get all the devices in your house fully charged and easy to find. Now is the time to add emergency numbers in your phone’s memory for easy access when you need them.
6. Finally, STAY INSIDE. However tempting it may be for kids to go out and make snow angels or play in the falling snow, use caution. Those blowing winds – both before and after a blizzard – are cold enough to cause frostbite, and snowdrifts may hide dangers children might otherwise see. Stay indoors where it’s safe, and warm!
Blizzards are serious business. Weather forecasters can only predict so much. Educate yourself and stay on top of the updates in your area. There is no harm in being overly cautious. In most cases where a blizzard is concerned, it truly is better to be safe than sorry.