No one likes to think about the possibility of bad winter weather or extreme weather situations hitting our doors this season. But the reality is it could happen to any of us at any given moment. Most of us have a general idea of what to do when bad winter weather hits. But most of us have also failed to relay that information to our children. It’s extremely important to have a plan in place for what to do in cold weather situations, like during a snow blizzard or power outage. Here’s how to make a family plan for cold weather and your children can be an intricate part of the decision-making.
Recently, with wildfires followed by mudslides in California and wintery weather crippling much of the South, everyone needs to know how to be prepared for unexpected situations no matter what state or country you live in. Think about Houston, Texas this Hurricane Season. Much of the city was not prepared for what the flood waters would bring and the aftermath of destruction that would be left behind. If you think back to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, most residents weren’t prepared for that event as well. When it comes to wintery weather, you can think about a few winters back when snow and ice shut down a major interstate leaving hundreds of thousands of residents stranded all around the city of Atlanta. In the flatter states in the U.S., they are always well prepared for tornadoes and most homes have built-in tornado shelters. They have learned to prepare after years of experiencing extreme weather. Thinking back, it’s easy for parents to say, I wish I would have prepared sooner for a such and such event. Well, now’s the time to get prepared for the winter season before the snow hits hard.
Make an Emergency Plan
The first step to prepping for bad weather is to make a family plan. Your children should know exactly what to do should a winter situation occur. There should be special instructions if your kiddos find themselves home alone. They should know how to call 911 and what neighbor to stay with in the event of an emergency. Another important element to cover with your children is to make sure they know their address, telephone number and the members of their family. They should also be aware of where the closest local shelter is in the event of an evacuation. Then, you should have routine drills that reinforce what everyone should do in an emergency situation. Once your family plan is established, you should hang a copy somewhere in the house where it is easily accessible by everyone.
Putting It Into Action
When temperatures start to drop below freezing, there are a ton of scenarios that you need to be prepared for. If you spend time preparing yourself now, you’ll feel more confident should anything happen. From freezing pipes to heading out in the snow, follow these safety tips for prepping your family for handling the winter event.
During a blizzard, it’s very common to lose power. Make sure to stock your pantry with a variety of packaged foods that don’t need to be heated. Think cereal bars, crackers, bottled water, etc. If your water comes from an electric pump or if there’s a chance your pipes might freeze, you’ll want to fill up all sinks, bathtubs and bottles with water. That way you’ll still be able to flush your toilet or wash your hair during the power outage. Have plenty of flashlights and batteries available, as well as, candles and lanterns. Look into purchasing a backup generator, which can keep the power on for a good bit of time. Before the cold weather hits, have your fireplace inspected so that it is in good working order. Make sure that you also heed the warning of meteorologists by filling up your car and propane tank with gas, in case you need to escape in an emergency or get stuck on the road; or if you need to cook food on a gas grill. When the winter weather does hit and if you lose power, block off all drafty areas with a sheet or blanket and have everyone come together in a common room around the fireplace to save heat and energy. Freezing rain and sleet can make roads, driveways and porches slippery, so make sure to have salt handy, so you can keep a clear and safe walkway. One of the most important things to have is a car kit, stocked with blankets, flashlights, water and food. That way if you get stuck in the snow, you’ll be able to survive the night. Remember if you are stuck, but your car is running, you want to make sure your tailpipe is free, so the carbon monoxide doesn’t back up into the vehicle. Also, keep a window breaker tool in the car should you wreck into the water.
When a blizzard or bitter cold strikes, it’s important to stay inside. Temperatures that low can cause hypothermia or frostbite to set in quicker than you think. If you do need to venture out, make sure you are dressed head to toe in winter wear, including a scarf, hat, mittens and snow boots, along with many layers of clothes. Breathe through your scarf to warm the air before it goes into your lungs. Do not stay outside more than half-an-hour and change clothes as soon as you come back inside. Remember not only is the snow a problem, but the bitter cold that comes from the wind can have harsh effects. Instruct your children to let you know if they have any extremities that feel numb and tell them they must not get wet while outside. Instructing them on the rules of cold weather will help them make good decisions should you get separated during a blizzard.
Preparing for an emergency is the best way to feel in control during an out of control situation. Going over your emergency plan and instructing your children on everything they need to know to stay warm will give you peace of mind should an emergency arise. Don’t wait to start planning!