Northwest NEWS

November 23, 1998

Home & Garden

Be prepared for winter storms

At Home:

   Food: Stock up. Even if you're able to get out after awhile and get to a store, trucks may not have been able to get through, and there could be empty shelves to greet you. Stock up on easily prepared foods that do not require refrigeration, things like powdered and canned milk, non-refrigerated juice, energy bars, and food that does not require cooking. Staying warm takes energy. Think about what you and yours would need to be comfortable for the longest time you have been stuck--then double it!

   Water: Pipes can freeze or break. Without power, pumps won't work. Water mains can break. Know where your shut-off valve is. Run water in a sink to help prevent freezing pipes. You have a reservoir of water in the hot water tank. You can fill the tub before things shut down. You can start now buying a gallon a week and storing it. If you have been preparing for an earthquake, you should have a gallon per person per day already stored.

   Power: Do you have an electric garage door opener? Do you know how to open it if the power goes out? It may be time to find the instruction manual. Check on and replenish supplies: batteries, flashlights, large pot for heating water, Sterno, wind-up clock, wood/pellets, matches, manual can opener, paper plates, plastic utensils, radio, candles, camping equipment.

   Remember proper ventilation. Fumes can kill. DO NOT USE A BARBECUE AS A HEAT SOURCE. DO NOT LEAVE CANDLES UNATTENDED--including while sleeping.

   When the power goes off, turn off and unplug everything except for one light to signal you when the power goes back on, or it could ruin your electrical equipment.

   Close off extra rooms. Maintain a small area for warmth. Keep doors and curtains closed. Put towels or blankets across the bottoms of doors to keep out drafts. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A fully loaded freezer will maintain for two days without power.

   A portable generator should not be hooked directly into your electric system unless a transfer switch has been installed by a licensed electrician. Without it, a fatal shock could be delivered to a lineman working in your area.

   Don't forget to keep prescriptions filled. A cell phone works even when the phone lines go down. Stock things like cards, board games, and books for entertainment.

In your car:

   Consider the possibility that you may become stuck. Remember the stories last winter from the Midwest, where people got stranded for several days. Check your antifreeze now. Make sure you have chains and know how to mount them. Consider carrying a bag of sand or kitty litter. Carry a small shovel. If your battery is old, now is the time to start planning to buy a new one.

   We are in for extended periods of near- or below-zero weather. If you have to park outside, consider running a trouble light to leave on under the hood. The heat from one bulb can help keep the engine healthy.

   Now is the time to start collecting a winter "kit." The Red Cross suggests you carry blankets or a sleeping bag; flashlight and extra batteries; knife; high calorie, non-perishable food; extra clothing; a large empty can with plastic cover, toilet paper and towels; a small can and waterproof matches to melt drinking water; windshield scraper; tow rope; jumper cables; water; compass; road map. Add a cell phone! Keep your tank full to avoid water in the fuel line. Try not to travel alone. At least let people know where you are going and when you expect to get there.