Last week was a doozy, wasn’t it? Record-breaking temperatures and snowfall. Most of us haven’t seen that kind of bitter, bone-chilling cold more than a handful of times, and though I’m a fan of cold winter weather, I draw the line when it drops below 10 degrees outside. Hopefully that was the last one of those.
But… what if it wasn’t? I’ll be the first to admit that even though I have a knack for being prepared for most things, the -35 wind chill temps and 10 inches of snow was a bit of a shocker, even for me.
After the storm hit and extreme cold set in, I took to helping a family member shovel driveways for the next few days. It went from “shovel my driveway” to “help me get my car out of the snow” pretty quickly. Everyone’s vehicles were literally stuck in snow drifts, some of which were more than four feet tall. It was a complete mess, and in -30 degree weather, it wasn’t exactly “happy happy fun time” digging them out.
Oh, and that night, half of the town of Columbia lost power… literally on the coldest night in 15 years. Great. Thankfully it was back on for most within about four hours, but it could’ve been worse — a lot worse.
Here’s a few things to have in place for, Heaven forbid, the next time this happens.
1. At first forecast of the possibility of a big winter storm, head to the grocery store as soon as you can and get your stuff. Get enough supplies to last at least a week. No need to compete with crowds the day before the storm.
2. Make sure you have good, warm, winter weather gear. Don’t try to go to the store the day before or during a big snowstorm and expect to find items like face masks, boots, etc. Order it online, where it’s cheaper and you have a better selection, and get what you can, when you can. Have it ready to go at a moment’s notice.
3. Keep a car battery jumping pack fully charged and ready for use. You can pick one up online for $50, and it could literally save your life, because chances are good your battery will die when it goes below zero outside.
4. Always have access to a snow shovel and a bag or two of rock salt. Both of these items are as good as gold when the snow starts to accumulate.
5. Keep cell phones fully charged at all times, and if possible, buy a spare battery or booster for emergencies. Why? Scenario: snow storm hits, extreme cold sets in, power goes out. Phone dies. Car battery is dead so you can’t charge it there. You live in the country. You can’t call for help. Now what?
6. Don’t forget your pets – provide warm shelter and keep extra food on hand.
7. If possible, pre-plan with a snow removal service to start clearing your driveway when a heavy-hitting storm is forecasted to move in. Get on the list ahead of time, because, well, good luck if you try calling the day after the storm.
8. Make a plan with other family and friends in the area to evacuate to warm shelter if necessary.
Take these storms seriously. They can end up being deadly events if not treated with respect. I know we don’t always get what the meteorologists forecast, but all it takes is one time of not being prepared and, well, your situation can go from bad to worse very quickly.