With fall just starting, winter weather is already preparing to make an appearance in eastern Colorado in the coming days. It's time to take a few simple steps to be prepared for the coming storms.
Have extra food and water on hand. Food that does not require cooking or refrigeration is ideal in case electricity is interrupted. If you have canned foods, make certain you have a hand-operated can opener. Dried fruit, nuts and granola bars can serve as emergency food; however, you should check your supplies regularly to make certain they have not expired.
Pre-packaged meal kits, often called Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs), may also be an option. Meal kits may have a heat source that is activated with water to start a chemical process that heats the food in its packaging.
Flashlights with extra batteries are helpful if electricity is out for an extended period. Solar-rechargeable garden lights can also be effective in brought indoors for the night. Keep in mind that the limited sunlight during the winter - with or without storms - may limit the amount of time the light will operate.
Consider other things you use regularly, and ensure you have extra supplies on hand in case you are unable to get to a store. Do you have extra prescription medications, baby care items including formula and diapers, and pet supplies?
Make sure your emergency heat sources are safe. Using a propane heater or barbeque grill inside for heat can be extremely dangerous. Not only is there a risk of starting a fire, carbon monoxide may build up in your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. Any heat source that burns fuel must be properly ventilated, and make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working properly.
Generators, too, should not be used inside an enclosed space such as your home.
A battery-operated or hand-cranked weather radio is helpful at any time of year to keep track of every-changing weather conditions. At KiowaCountyPress.net, we have used Midland brand weather radios in the office and our homes for years with great success. They are easy to set up, can operate on batteries, have a wide range of features, and are inexpensive. Some models can also be used with assistive devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Always keep your gas tank full in the winter, especially if you are planning a long trip. If your vehicle becomes stuck, run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to generate heat. Make sure the exhaust pipe is cleared of snow and mud.
Check weather and road conditions before you leave, and avoid traveling if there is a risk of poor conditions along your route. In Colorado, http://cotrip.org provides travel information at any time of year, and includes road conditions and the location of closures. Some rural highways are not plowed overnight and should be avoided.
Keep these items in your car:
- Mobile phone, charger, batteries
- Blankets/sleeping bags
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- High-calorie, non-perishable food
- Extra clothing to keep dry
- Large empty can to use as emergency toilet, tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
- Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
- Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
- Windshield scraper and brush
- Tool kit
- Tow rope
- Battery booster cables
- Water container
- Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat.
- Compass and road maps, don't depend on mobile devices with limited battery life