East cost snowstorm

The Washington Post ran an article this morning with a checklist for east coasters who are preparing for a major blizzard. It advised readers to check of each item as they prepared for the snow and ice that is supposed to deliver more sleet and snow to the Northeast throughout the day. Area school are closing and the federal government has a late start set for the day’s activities.

Here are the items the Post recommends that people have in their homes. I’ve added a bit of commentary.

Water - the Post recommends a gallon per person per day. Of course no one knows how many day folks might be snowed in. They probably would have to get at least a little bit thirsty before they started drinking the water out of the water heater and toilet tanks.

Food - always good to have on hand. Non-perishables are always good to have, though a power outage might make for a quick dash through the remaining food in the refrigerator. Once when we had a multiple-day outage we moved the food from the refrigerator to our deep freezer. With all of the frozen food there, things stayed cool until the power was restored.

Heating and cooking - the post recommends an alternative source, such as a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Using a grill for cooking means cooking outside if it is to be done safely. One hopes that the folks have made sure their smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms have fresh batteries.

Warm clothing - that’s a good suggestion. Warm bedding doesn’t hurt, either.

Pet supplies - once the dog gets hungry, no one is going to be happy until he gets fed.

Medication - the Post recommends a week’s supply. They must not use the same mail-order pharmacy required by my insurance company. That company never lets me get lower than a 90-day supply. It is amazing how much medicine they waste in an attempt to lower prices.

Hygiene items - not a good time to run out of toilet paper. Of course if you lose water service, you’re going to have problems flushing the toilet. Enough said.

Batteries - have you got spares for all of your flashlights and a radio? Do you have a plan to charge your cell phone?

The Post article goes on with advice about shoveling snow and using salt to melt ice. There is also the advice to life windshield wipers so they won’t be frozen to the windshield. Strangely it doesn’t mention having a full tank of gas. You get the picture. The newspaper (and now this blog) has devoted a significant amount of space to items that are simply common sense. You shouldn’t need your newspaper to figure these things out. Hopefully Washington DC residents read the article yesterday because if they waited until today, the storm might make going to the store to stock up a bit of a problem, and if all of your neighbors got there before you, the store is probably out of toilet paper anyway.

I have a fairly well-stocked backpack full of emergency supplies that I go through a couple of times each year. It contains items I might need were I to need to spend the night in the car due to a breakdown or getting trapped in a blizzard. It has food and a small stove for cooking, warm socks, emergency blankets, flashlight with spare batteries and other items. I also keep a sleeping bag in the car during the winter. The only item I have to grab when heading out is a couple of containers of water. Leaving water in the car during the winter doesn’t work very well around here.

We try to keep our home stocked with necessary items so we are prepared. So far we haven’t experienced any significant deprivation during the blizzards that have come in the years we’ve lived in this home. I don’t think we’ve ever had the power out for more than three or four days, and when that happened, we had water pressure for the entire time.

What was fun about those times, was working with our neighbors. Once, we had a great community meal. We all contributed things and a neighbor who has a gas stove, cooked and hosted the event. Other times we’ve all gotten together and shovel out whichever neighbor was careless and got stuck in the street in just the right place to block the snowplow. I’ve run my snowblower to clear other’s drives as well as my own and neighbors who have snowplows have even plowed our street during some storms when the city plows were busy in other places. If someone runs out of firewood, there’s plenty at the neighbors to get them through.

I hope those folks on the east coast have stocked up for the blizzard and I hope that none of them suffer too much. I know that harsh weather can catch folks by surprise and cause a lot of suffering. The weather can be strong beyond imagination and we’ve become overly dependent upon our modern gadgets, not all of which work perfectly when conditions aren’t ideal. These days we usually have fairly accurate weather forecasts and ample warning of approaching storms.

It isn’t just Washington DC that will be affected. There’ll probably be a lot more snow north of DC. Public schools in New York City and Boston are closed today. They may see 10 to 16 inches of snow, which is enough to get your attention.

Travel is disrupted around the region. More than 5,000 flights have already been cancelled and part of the New York above ground train system is not running. There were disruptions in Chicago yesterday and at Philadelphia International Airport only a few planes were making it out early this morning. Snow, sleet and freezing rain are making getting around difficult.

Spring blizzards are the stuff of which stories are made. Whenever the weather gets bad around here we love to sit around and tell stories of previous blizzards. Perhaps those east coasters can do the same. Then, if they get bored, they can read articles on the Internet about how to survive. There’ll be no shortage of them today.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!