Are You Prepared for an Ice Storm? 8 Tips for Survival
At any point in a New England winter, we face the threat of an ice storm. This severe condition is possibly the most dreaded of all winter weather. With a snow storm, well you tuck in and wait for the storm to pass, then get outside and clear the snow.
But an ice storm is more villainous. The temperature outside wavers around the freezing mark, so you may have some rain early on. But once the thermometer goes below freezing, the trouble starts. All that water on the roadways, power lines, and trees freezes up. Driving becomes extremely treacherous. And the weight of the ice on trees and power lines causes electric outages. Power lines bend under the weight of the ice. Quite often, treetops and limbs will come crashing down, blocking roads and causing damage to cars.
When an ice storm is predicted, it is best to be prepared. While we have no control on the weather, we can gather supplies to help us weather the storm and a possible power outage. People with camping experience have an advantage, and the best route to survival is to have a back-up generator. If it is too late for you to purchase and install a generator, here are some tips for ways to stay comfortable during an ice storm:
1. Stock the pantry. In the event of a storm, you will want to have plenty of ready-to-eat food like bread, cereal and sandwich ingredients. Also stock up on milk, juice, and bottled water, especially if you rely on a well for your drinking water. And check your paper supplies. Toilet paper and paper towels become invaluable during an ice storm.
2. Gas up the grill. If you have a gas grill, bring home an extra canister of gas, because your grill will become your primary cooking source if there is an electric outage. Before the storm hits, be sure to clear a spot outdoors where you can safely run out, cook, and duck back inside. If you have a charcoal grill, the same principles apply. Either way, your grill will be key. You'll have the flexibility of doing simple cooking, such as heating up water for oatmeal or instant coffee, or getting more fancy by toasting sandwiches or grilling up the meat from your freezer.
3. Select a room to set up camp. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, you have an advantage. Plan to set up as base camp the room where that fireplace is located. You'll want to also get some plastic sheeting to hang around this room's doorways. This will close off the room to keep heat concentrated in one location. Use masking tape, painter's tape, or duct tape. As a last resort, you can always hang some blankets by lightly hammering nails into the door frames.
When we lose power, we set up mattresses and sleeping bags in front of the fireplace, then load up on books, games, and a hand-crank radio. The radio is important for maintaining a feeling of connection with the outside world.
If you do not have a fireplace or wood stove, then select the smallest room possible as your base camp. You'll be relying on blankets and body heat to keep you warm.
4. Stock up on matches, and get out your candles. Darkness falls very quickly when the power is out. By 3 pm, you will be wanting to have some supplemental light in the house. Set up candles in the room where your base camp is established.
5. Gather your batteries and flashlights. If the threat of an ice storm looms, check your supply of batteries and flashlights. Candles are great if you are sitting around talking, but if you want to read or walk around the house you will want the power of a flashlight. It helps to place one in the bathroom for quick use too.
6. Get out your coolers. The only bright side of having a power outage in winter is that once the food in the fridge and freezer starts to warm up, you can place it outside to keep it cold. Use coolers so that your food is protected from any animals and to keep food temps within safe limits for eating.
7. Make sure your outdoor clothing is dry right now. If an ice storm is predicted, but you still have power, be sure that snow pants, coats, gloves, hats, socks, and the like are dry before the storm hits. You may find yourself wearing these items throughout the storm.
8. Ask for, and offer, help when possible. If you can safely check on your neighbors, do so. You'll find that sharing company will make a time of emergency much easier to bear. I like to place a candle or flashlight in a front window so other people will know they aren't alone in the storm.
An ice storm with its related power outages can create a time of anxiety and isolation. If an ice storm is predicted in your area, please take the time to be prepared. If power lines, tree limbs, or other large debris block your yard and road, stay inside and be safe until the emergency and utility crews can get to you.
Submitted by Kathryn Acciari, REALTOR
RE/MAX Professional Associates
Sturbridge, MA - where power outages are a fact of life
(508) 982-0686 cell
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Text and photos copyright Kathryn J. Acciari unless otherwise noted.
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Kathryn Acciari, RSPS, SRS, RESE, CFA
Century 21 MetroWest
45 Lyman Street Suite 14
Westborough MA 01581
Serving the Route 9/20 Corridors of Central Massachusetts
Sturbridge to Westborough
Cell: (508) 982-0686