Make sure you have done the basics: Learn how to keep your pipes from freezing (you can, for example, open cupboards in places like under sinks to let heat in or let faucets drip), test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, have extra batteries for radios and flashlights, charge electronics and consider specific needs of everyone in your household, such as medicine.
And make sure you have all the grocery items you need.
These types of storms – and their aftermath – can cut off heat, power or communications services. Because we do not yet know how severe the impacts will be and how long they will last, and in the midst of supply chain problems that could exacerbate grocery shopping struggles this weekend, you need to have at least three days of food and water for everyone in your home, says Joann Sands, a clinical assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Buffalo, who trains students in disaster and emergency preparedness.
Choose foods that have a long shelf life, do not require cooking and are not too salty or spicy, because these foods mean you are likely to drink more water, recommends the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s what you need to make sure your home is filled.
High protein and non-perishable foods
These include foods like energy bars and protein and fruit bars that do not need to be refrigerated or frozen, Sands said.
Dry grains, granola, peanut butter, dried fruit and non-perishable pasteurized milk are also good to have when you hunk down.
Keep in mind that the power may be out while the storm whips through your region, so get ready to eat canned meat, fruits, vegetables and canned juices as well as a manual can opener, according to Ready.gov.
Canned dietary foods, juices and soups can be especially helpful for the elderly or sick, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
If a can is swollen, dented or corroded, do not eat from it.
While not important, experts recommend that you have comfort and stress food on hand while resisting the storm.
Keep at least three days of water supply for each person in your household and for each pet, the CDC recommends. FEMA recommends storing at least one gallon of water for each person in your household for each day.
Unopened, commercial bottled water is the safest and most reliable water supply, the agency says. If water is purchased, be sure to check the expiration date.
Plastic bags and containers
Make sure you also have plastic bags on hand, as you can pack perishable foods – like cookies – in there and place them in sealed containers, according to FEMA.
Paper plates, cups and disposable utensils
If you lack electricity and water, having paper plates and utensils can help you prepare and eat your meals safely, says the CDC.
Think of babies – and pets
As you prepare, do not forget about babies and pets in the house.
Make sure you have enough supply of breast milk substitute, as well as anything else an infant may need, such as diapers, Sands said.
Also, make sure to have several days supplies for pets, such as medicines and non-perishable foods.
(And maybe some treats, as storms can be stressful for them, too.)
Check that you have the hygiene products you need – including feminine supplies, toilet paper, wet wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer.
Have an emergency kit
It is always good to have a disaster kit ready, which is in a portable container near the exit of your home.
These should include: non-perishable food and three days supply of water, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit with a manual, sanitary ware, matches in a waterproof container, a whistle for signaling for help if you have need it, clothes, blankets and sleeping bags, ID cards, credit cards and cash, paper and pencil, items to cover the needs of babies and pets and any special items such as medicines, contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids and activities for younger children.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you should also include things like face masks.
Know this about items in the fridge:
It’s important that you do not panic – buy and try to fill your refrigerator, Sands said.
“How should you be able to store this food if you do not have electricity?” Sands said, adding that replenishing extra groceries can not only lead to wasted food, but can harm others who may not be able to find what they are looking for.
If your power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to avoid letting the cool air out. If unopened, your refrigerator will be able to keep food cold for about four hours, according to Ready.gov.
Throw out any perishable food – such as meat, poultry, eggs or leftovers – that have been in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.
Fill your fuel tank
While you are in a winter storm, you should try to minimize travel as much as possible, to avoid getting stranded on the road. Make sure that if you are going out, you have a full tank of gas, Sands said.
It is also a good idea to have an emergency kit in each of your family’s vehicles if you get stranded.
Tips to keep in mind before the storm
- Have important documents readily available in the event of an evacuation, including home or tenant insurance, social security cards, birth certificates and passports, Sands said.
- Create a family communication plan for how you will be able to get in touch if you become separated during the storm.
- Do not bring portable generators, camp ovens and grills inside your home. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your windows, doors and vents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Here’s how they could look.
- Plan to check on your elderly or disabled neighbors and friends.
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