Bitter cold temperatures have settled in the Midwest. A major winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast and eastern seaboard. The 2014 winter season is making its presence known in no uncertain terms.
Winter storms and freezing temperatures can lead to just as many deaths as the hurricanes and tornadoes of the warmer seasons. Most winter storm deaths are the result of auto accidents. While we can’t control the amount of ice on the roads, we can control our level of preparation. It is important to be both prepared and informed.
1. Take advantage of your smart phone. Many weather apps are free and can be customized to alert you when winter storm warnings are in effect for your area.
2. Make sure all the fluids in your car are topped off
3. Make sure that the car charger for your phone is actually in the car. It doesn’t do you any good sitting in the junk drawer in the kitchen.
4. Pick up your prescription refill ahead of time – BEFORE the storm
4. If you’re going out to buy milk, bread and toilet paper, don’t forget about pet food too
5. Let someone know your itinerary. Before you drive off, give someone a call and let them know what time to expect you home. Someone needs to know to look for you if you don’t show up.
6. Put a winter emergency kit in the trunk of your car. <<<< Don’t stop reading just because you’ve heard that idea 1,000 times before>>>>>. Most people skip this important step, but it is incredibly important. If you’re in an accident or simply slide off the road, you could be stranded for a period of time in your car. In a blizzard, it is safer to stay in your car until the storm passes. But you must be prepared so that you don’t freeze to death. Warmth and hydration are the keys to surviving if you are stranded. Put a small box or bag in the trunk filled with the following items, and leave it there for the winter. Insist that the teenage drivers in your house have an identical emergency kit in their cars as well.
15 Items for your Car Emergency Kit
- Winter hat – heat escapes through your head – put a hat on!
- Waterproof winter gloves – this is not a fashion statement; fingers and toes get frostbite first
- Boots and socks – keep your feet dry
- Blanket – or better yet, a winter sleeping bag
- Matches – it might sound cliche, but imagine if you needed them and didn’t have them
- Flashlight and extra batteries, preferrably an LED light (it’s brighter during a snow storm). A white car on the side of the road in a snow storm looks like . . . nothing.
- An LED emergency beacon (kind of like a small strobe light) or flares
- Rely on a daily prescription? Get a small pill box and keep 2 days worth of pills in your emergency kit. Most doctors or pharmacists can provide 1 or 2 days of extra for an emergency.
- Glucose tablets – Glucose is the fuel for the brain. When blood sugar levels get low, dizziness and confusion can occur. Glucose tablets are less than $2 and are available near the diabetic supplies in drug stores and superstores
- Have an infant? Make sure you’re adequately prepared to take care of their needs if they are stranded with you. (Formula and diapers).
- A small bag of sand – to provide traction in the snow if you’re stuck
- Jumper cables – need I say more?
- A tow rope – if a truck comes by to help you, but no one has a rope, you’re still stuck
- Several small bottles of water – a small bottle is easier to thaw than a large jug
- A child’s size shovel – easy to store in the trunk, but still helpful if you find yourself in a snowbank
If you can, just stay home. When people venture out in a snowstorm, it’s usually because they are trying to go to work. In todays digital society, many workplaces offer the ability to work remotely from home by utilizing a remote desktop and forwarding your office phone to your cell phone. Find out what the inclement weather policy is at your office.
If you’re the employer, consider offering the remote desktop option during emergencies such as a blizzard or hurricane. Your business can remain open, while your employees remain safe. Obviously this won’t work for every position in your business, but if you have employees who primarily use a computer and a phone, this could be a great solution for you.