Make sure you're ready for winter
“The eastern metro could get up to 15 inches of the heavy wet stuff,” announced the man on the radio. “It depends on how soon this stuff changes from rain to snow.”
Anytime it rains before it snows, you know the roads are going to be bad. Four days after the storm that had truckers and state troopers calling this the worst winter storm since the Halloween blizzard of '91, the road crews are still mopping up the damage. Interstate 35 had been closed and many of the metro area’s side roads remained little more than rutted trails.
Although we never got close to the predicted 15 inches of snow and very few trees were damaged, what was all the fuss about? The main problems caused by our most recent blast of winter can be blamed on the accumulation from all the other dozens of storms we have suffered in this particularly brutal winter. There simply is nowhere left to put the snow.
On Thursday evening, we had long since settled in to wait out this version of Old Man Winter when my wife casually stated, “What are we going to do if the power goes out?”
That one little statement opened up a huge can of worms. What follows is my public service column for the year. If the power goes out, we have no heat, for the furnace requires electricity. No problem, I thought. We do have a fireplace, specifically, an empty fireplace with no wood. Soon we came to realize how ill prepared we were this winter to weather the most storms either of us could remember since we lived in our little log cabin in the woods back in the 1970s.
“Do you remember seeing any firewood out back when we moved in here?” I asked my wife.
“I don’t think so,” she replied. “If there is any, we certainly aren’t going to find it in all of this snow.”
After locating firewood at a Holiday Station Store ($50 barely filled the trunk), other shortcomings began to reveal themselves.
"Do you know where any matches are?"
"Do you know where any lighters are?"
"Do you know where any candles are?"
"Do you know where any flashlights are?"
“This afternoon when the storm began, I thought about buying a generator. They have ones you can wire directly to your furnace for only $3,000,” my wife stated.
Nine o’clock in the evening during the middle of a snowstorm is not a good time to purchase a generator. So we went with the basics. Along with the firewood, we bought a box of matches, two lighters, two flashlights and two candles that smelled like a French boutique.
I grabbed one of the lighters, crumpled up some old newspapers, opened one bundle of firewood and set everything by the fireplace. I set a flashlight by my bed stand. As for the stinking candles? We placed them in the garage. My wife filled up a couple of pitchers of water for emergency purposes. We were now ready to ride out the power outage that never happened.
However, judging by the type of winter we have experienced this year, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. As long as you are going over your emergency supply list, you might as well prepare your car with the standard blizzard box. Get a small duffel bag or suitcase that will fit the following items: matches, lighter, candles, flashlight, gloves, socks, small blanket, candy bars, nuts, a container for melting water and, for good measure, a set of jumper cables and a shovel. In addition, try to keep your gas tank close to full and your cell phone charged.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that March is just around the corner. Be prepared, as the snowiest time of year is yet to come. We all remember from the old days that high school basketball tournament time poses the greatest risk for crippling winter blizzards. This year, make sure your home and vehicles are ready.