Prepare at home: The website Ready.gov has lots of tips to help you plan for emergencies, including severe weather. Stock up on water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation) and food (a several-day supply of nonperishable food) in case you can’t get to the store for a while. Find your flashlight and make sure you have plenty of batteries. Don’t forget food for pets, and make sure you’ve got enough medication on hand to get you through the storm and a few days after.
Charge your electronics: Snow storms often bring power outages, so make sure all your phones, electronics and backup portable chargers are fully charged. Think about buying a solar-powered charger for the future. A battery-powered or hand-crank radio is a good item for a home emergency kit, too. Be careful about charging phones in the car. Snow can pile up behind exhaust pipes and put you at risk for carbon-monoxide poisoning. Never run your car in the garage.
Create an emergency kit for your car: Consider getting a battery-powered jump starter. Add warm clothes, blankets (Mylar blankets are cheap and don’t take up space), bottled water and snack bars. Always have a full tank of gas. A bag of sand or cat litter can be useful in case your car gets stuck on ice.
Avoid shoveling snow if you can: Once the storm passes, you may be left in a blanket of snow. Before you start shoveling, think about your health. If you have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular issues, are overweight or often sedentary, hire a professional snow-removal service instead of doing it yourself. The American Heart Association warns that shoveling snow is a particularly strenuous and risky activity. The exertion and cold temperatures can increase blood pressure and constrict coronary arteries. Even pushing a snowblower can raise your heart rate and blood pressure quickly, the AHA reports.
Avoid icy spills: The National Council on Aging has lots of advice for avoiding slips and falls on ice. Proper shoes can help. You can add ice- and snow-gripper covers to the soles of your shoes, buy winter shoes with rubber soles and add spikes to a cane during winter months. Sprinkling the path ahead of you with sand or cat litter can also be helpful. Falls are a big risk in the winter. I took a major spill myself last year and hit the ground hard. I blame myself because I was just getting the mail and didn’t change into proper shoes.
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