Episode 48: February 6, 2013
by Amanda Thomas
As many of you know, I live in Phoenix. I realize the irony of an Arizona girl writing an episode on preparing for a blizzard. After all, we rarely see snow in the desert (although it has happened twice since I’ve lived here). In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if you were questioning my authority on this subject right now. Even I think that writing this while it is 70 degrees outside my office is a little funny. But before you tune out, let me reassure you that I have experienced my fair share of blizzards. I spent the first 18 years of my life in an old farm house, in the middle of the South Dakota countryside.
Sponsor: Audible.com, the Internet’s leading provider of audiobooks with more than 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to audiblepodcast.com/ceo.
South Dakota gets some wicked snowstorms, and living on a farm gave me some pretty crazy stories. You think having to shovel a foot of snow off your sidewalk is bad? On more than one occasion, my parents had to make tunnels through 10-foot-high snow drifts. And one time, when I was in high school, we had an early dismissal because of a blizzard. My parents told me to go home with my best friend. We all thought that I might have to stay with her a night or two. As it turned out, my parents couldn’t get out of their house for almost an entire week, and I wasn’t able to get back home for two whole weeks because there was so much snow.
So, while I hope your experiences with snow are never as challenging as mine were, I do want to make sure that you are prepared for a blizzard should you suddenly be caught in one this winter. I picked a few tips I learned from my parents over the years to share with you today.
Tip #1: Stock Up On Food
Growing up on a farm with a large garden and cattle meant that our basement was always stocked with jars of canned fruit and vegetables, and our deep freezer was always full of beef. Even though we had all that food available, my parents would still drive to town when there was a chance of a big storm to make sure that we had enough bread, cereal, and snacks to get us by. My advice: Prepare for the worst. If you are buried in snow for a week, would you have enough food to feed your family? Is it non-perishable food that you can eat if the power goes out, too? While peanut butter sandwiches might not be ideal to eat every day, you can probably deal with them for a day or two if needed.
Tip #2: Stock Up On Light and Power Sources
It’s not uncommon for the power to go out during a big storm. It may be out for a couple of hours, or it may be out for a couple days or even weeks. My advice: Again, prepare for the worst. The day before the storm is supposed to arrive, dig out all your flashlights, lanterns, and candles. By the way, you should always have at least one flashlight in a designated drawer in case the power goes out unexpectedly. There’s nothing worse than having to hunt by cell phone screen light in an unexpected power outage. Since there is usually a little warning before a big storm, make sure to take a few minutes to put together as many light sources as you can.
Lights are one thing, but you also need to make sure you have enough power for those items. Make sure you are stocked with lighters or matches for your candles, and batteries for all the flashlights and lanterns. I would also recommend keeping an extra, fully-charged cell phone battery in the box, just in case you are without power for a few days. You might also consider purchasing a cell-phone charger that works in your car – it can be very useful, particularly in an extended power outage. My colleague Tech talker has a great episode about how technology can help you in a disaster, so make sure to check that out.
If you are in an area where blizzards and storms knock out the power a few times a year, you may even want to create a special “Blizzard Box” out of a plastic storage tub. That way you can simply grab one box to get everything you need when a storm is coming.
Also, make sure that you have enough fuel to get you through a few days of no power. If you have a generator to provide electricity in your home, you will want to make sure to have a few canisters of diesel fuel to keep it running. If the power goes out in your neighborhood, your local gas station may not be able to pump gas, so fill your car before the storm and make sure to have at least a few gallons of gas in the garage to get you through the power outage.
Tip #3: Stock Up On Old-School Entertainment
It’s often unsafe to go outside during the storm because of the cold or low visibility. But being snowed in for days can make anyone stir-crazy. While it’s tempting to rely on our electronic devices to get us through the hours and hang out on Pinterest all day, what happens if the electricity goes out? You don’t want to waste your phone battery on Facebook, and handheld games will only last your kids a little while before they die. Instead of thinking that you can just veg out in front of a screen during a blizzard, why not stock up on old-school entertainment.
Board and card games were a family favorite of mine growing up and I have many fond memories of playing Scrabble by candlelight as a kid. If you have kids, make sure to have a few arts and crafts projects ready to make. Or, if you have a gas stove, plan to do a baking project. If all else fails, have a good book or a few trashy magazines next to your favorite chair. As long as the options can keep you and your family entertained for a few days, you won’t have to worry about cabin-fever setting in.
Now that you have a few survival tips, I hope that you will be well prepared the next time a blizzard hits your home. Do you have stories of great snowstorms? How did you pass the time? Share your tips and stories on my Facebook wall, or tweet me your experiences @thedomesticceo.
Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.
Preserved Vegetables, Batteries and Family Playing Board Games images from Shutterstock