Planning for winter weather
According to Mary Knapp, state climatologist with K-State Research & Extension, the winter forecast is looking to be mild and dry. But we know Mother Nature and how temperamental she can be. Plus, it only takes one storm to make life miserable--and possibly even dangerous.
Are you ready for the low temperatures, snow and ice that winters can bring?
1. Have you checked the batteries in your transistor radio? Do you make a habit to listen to radio or television so that you have the latest information from the National Weather Service? Better yet, do you have a NOAA Weather Radio? Do you understand the differences between a weather advisory, storm watch and storm warning? Have you thought through what precautions to take?
2. Are the vehicles your family drives ready? The tires, battery, defroster, heater, etc.? When the temperature drops, do you watch the gas tank insuring that the tank is always half full? (A full tank will not only aid you if you should get stranded, it will help keep the fuel line from freezing.)
3. When did you last have your furnace and chimney inspected? What about your carbon monoxide detector?
4. Do you have an emergency preparedness kit ready? It should contain: water (a gallon a day per person); non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food and a manual can opener; first aid kit; needed medications for at least 72 hours; blankets or sleeping bags; coffee can or other re-sealable container with candles and matches; extra pair(s) of eye glasses; sanitation and personal hygiene items; cell phone with charger; family and emergency contact information; and extra cash--both in bills and coins.
5. If not already in a safety deposit box, it's a good idea to have in a water-tight container stored in a secure place containing important papers such as personal identification, medical information; deed/lease to home; birth certificates, insurance policies, financial papers, etc. (For more information on what papers to keep and suggestions on how to keep them, see the Extension publication "Organize Your Important Papers" at www.extension.org/pages/12475/organize-your-important-papers.) Keeping all of these papers together, in a secure place, will be a bonus if you suddenly would have to leave your home.
6. Are you prepared if the electricity were to be off for an extended period of time? Do you have a digital quick-response thermometer in your refrigerator that would quickly tell you how cold your refrigerator is keeping itself? What about filling an empty milk jug with water and freezing it in your deep freeze? That jug of ice would help keep things cold if electricity were out for a short period of time.
If the power should go out and you're looking for an alternative to stay warm or prepare food, remember that carbon monoxide kills. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawl space or any partially enclosed area. While the main reason to avoid using any of these devices is carbon monoxide poisoning, they are also very prone to causing fires and electrical shocks.
When the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
Remember that an unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about four hours so first use perishable foods and then use foods from the freezer. A full freezer will maintain its temperature for about 48 hours, or 24 hours if it is only half full. If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep it covered in a cool, dry location.