I find myself a little surprised to be writing about blizzard survival with Spring just around the corner, but weather forecasts are predicting a particularly nasty blizzard for the East Coast. Strong winds and a foot of snow are possible from Maryland to Maine. March came in like a lamb, but it’s acting like a lion for those in the Northeast.
Winter storms (this one is named “Stella”) occur every year in the United States, and cause fatalities among the unprepared. 70% of deaths occur due to traffic accidents and 25% from hypothermia from being caught outside during the blizzard. With Stella’s strong winds, trees and power lines burdened with heavy snowfall may topple, causing additional hazards.
If a blizzard knocks you off the grid but you’re still in your home (a great place to be), keep everyone in an inside room, preferably without windows. The heat from several bodies will make a small space warmer.
Heat in the home can be conserved by shutting the doors of unused rooms and drawing blinds and curtains to add insulation. Stuff towels under the door to prevent loss of warmth from the room you’re using. If you’re using some form of alternative heat, however, make certain that there is reasonable ventilation. Prepare for mishaps by having a fire extinguisher handy.
Staying hydrated is important. You’d be surprised how much a family uses, so fill the bathtub with water. Plumbing might be kept from freezing by allowing faucets to drip. Stock up on non-perishable food.
Winter conditions don’t just affect people; they affect cars as well. Cold affects rubber and metal; it even decreases the battery’s efficiency. Tires become stiff and flat for the first few hundred yards. Motor oil and other lubricants become thicker at cold temperatures. This makes the engine work harder.
Therefore, vehicles that will be doing duty in extreme cold should be “winterized”. This involves switching to a lighter viscosity oil, changing to snow tires, and choosing the right (anti-freeze) ratio of coolant to water. Gas tanks should be full if at all possible.