Having a whole-home generator installed is a great way to prepare for winter weather - You won’t need to scramble for flash lights, heating your home won’t be an issue, and you won’t need to worry about the food in your refrigerator going bad. However, there are external factors that could affect you, with or without a generator. Cable, internet, and radio services may be inactive, local grocery stores or gas stations may be out of commission. Be prepared for these scenarios by following these simple steps.
1. Stock up on food & water:
- Don’t wait until the local news issues a winter weather warning. Pick up a few items every visit to the supermarket and store them: Think canned soup, crackers, popcorn; Dry milk (mix with water then mix half with store milk to make your rations stretch further and taste better); if there is room in your freezer, freeze a couple of gallons of whole milk to mix with the dry milk mix for use only when the power goes out. Whole milk will keep in the freezer at least one year.
- Thoroughly wash your used milk and water jugs throughout the year and refill with tap water. Store these in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Use this water for flushing toilets, washing hands and washing dishes (direct sunlight destroys the effectiveness of chlorine which prevents bacteria from growing. Tap water does not need to be treated with extra chlorine if stored properly).
- For drinking water, plan on needing 1 gallon per day per person. You should put back about three days’ worth of drinking water per person in your household (plus a little extra for those unexpected visitors). If “plain” water is a total ‘no go’ in your household, purchase some drink mixes (Tang, Kool-Aid, Mio) or tea and instant coffee crystals.
- Stock up on medications: If you take prescription meds, Murphy’s Law states that you will probably need a refill right about the time a big storm hits. Consider the three-month supply available from your pharmacy so that you’ll have plenty on hand all winter. Cough and cold medicines may come in handy, especially if there’s a driveway and sidewalk in front of your house that will need to be treated.
- Weather radio: It’s important to remember that just because you have a generator and will have power, that doesn’t mean TV/Radio services will be available. For weather radios, hand-crank models are great since they don’t rely on any other power source. Some models even feature a flashlight and AM/FM radio.
- Avoid cabin fever by taking your entertainment “old school.” Coloring and activity books for the kids, magazines, board games like Clue, Sorry, Life, and Monopoly will help keep you and yours entertained. Books and magazines will keep minds occupied as well as craft projects – think scrapbooks and paper projects.
- Keep the gas tank full. Think emergency in the middle of an ice or snowstorm and all the gas stations are closed. In an emergency, you may have to venture out. If your tank is empty, you may as well stay put. Say you were to get stuck in a ditch for several hours – if your car runs out of gas, you have no way of keeping warm. Further, keeping the tank full of gas prevents fuel line freeze up.
- Last, but by no means least, while the weather is still more like autumn, stroll around your house and look for dangling tree branches. These may not seem much of a threat now but high winds and layers of ice make these what the tree cutters refer to as “widow makers.” They also make nasty projectiles that puncture roofs and windows alike as well as disable power lines. Call your local tree cutter and get those removed ASAP.