When Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of winter, who would have thought that snowmaggedon would come to Utah? Even though many Utah residents may want to be done with the snow, like Amy Joi O’Donoghue and Hannah McKinlay reported for Deseret News on Wednesday, the winter weather is here to stay for a little while longer.
In fact, the U.S. is being hit with a massive winter storm, per Axios. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost power in places like Michigan and thousands of flights have been canceled. At the same time, Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area might smash records for warm weather, with temperatures around 80 degrees.
An ice storm is hitting the northeast part of the country in places like Massachusetts, according to CBS News. Rain and sleet are expected.
With extreme (and unusual) winter weather like this, you might be wondering if there’s anything you should do to prepare. Here are some tips to keep you safe and prepared during extreme winter weather.
Stay off the roads
This is one of the most important things you can do. If possible, work from home. Only leave if you absolutely need to. Staying off the roads helps people who are plowing do their jobs more safely. If you need to drive somewhere, best practice is to have more than half a tank of gas and to drive slowly. Making arrangements to stay home for a couple of days can help get everyone back on the road safely.
Make a power outage plan
When the power goes out in the warm weather, it’s an inconvenience. But when it goes out in the cold, there can be a lot more to consider. Generators are one way to still maintain power during an outage — but they should be used safely. Consumer Reports advises to not run them in the house or in the garage. They should be placed further away from the home because of the carbon monoxide. If you use one, make sure to install it correctly.
If you don’t have a generator, there are a couple of other options to make sure you stay safe. If you have a fireplace, it can be a good idea to have extra wood stocked up in these cases to keep heat in a particular area. Consider using a space heater, but be extra careful to read the instructions and follow them. Blankets are a good option here, as well as a tent.
Unplug appliances when the power goes out to avoid a surge when it comes back on. Making a plan of who will do what in a power outage can help you seamlessly transition and give you peace of mind. Use your phone as little as possible to preserve the charge.
Have food and water storage
If the power goes out or you’re unable to get to the grocery store, having food and water is very important. It’s possible (even though it’s unlikely) that your pipes could freeze. In that case, it’s important to have a sizable supply of drinking water. In the case that your pipes freeze, Red Cross has instructions on how to manage that.
A food supply is also important and it requires some level of maintenance. Even though most of us use items like pasta before they go bad, it’s important to keep on top of the expiration dates of your food storage. In the case that the power goes out, your food in the fridge only has a couple of hours before it will start to become questionable to consume. Having food storage full of items you can eat is important.
Shovel your driveway (and know the law)
In some places, there’s a law that states you have to have your driveway shoveled in a certain number of hours or days following different types of storms. Check your city’s laws and regulations on snowstorms, so that you can be informed. Additionally, clear the sidewalk in front of your driveway. Make a pathway for the mail carrier to safely walk up to your mailbox as well.
Keep a winter emergency kit in your car
If you get stuck on the road in winter weather, having an emergency kit can be tremendously helpful. Extra socks, a flashlight, a blanket, a hat, gloves, ice scraper, water, some food, windshield fluid, a first-aid kit, a mini-shovel (if possible), jumper cables, a map and some cash (especially if you only carry cards in your wallet) are some basic things that you can keep in your car. You never know if you’ll get your car stuck and need to dig it out or if you’ll need to use a map.