Everything But A Drought, All In One Week – Louder Reminders to Prepare Don’t Exist

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Hurricane. Extra-tropical low. Driving rain. Flooding. Storm surges. Damaging winds. Record-breaking snowfall. Unusual cold. Nor’easter. What have we NOT seen this week? Looks like the only thing missing from this pot of weather stew is sweltering heat and a drought or two. And it’s not even November.

Of course, at this point the stalwart residents of the Northeast are thinking, “Drought? No problem. Bring it!”

As we move into November, however, it’s time to start thinking about winter and, more importantly, preparing for winter. Just as coastal residents prepare for hurricanes and West Coasters prepare for the inevitable earthquake, most of the U.S. is now transitioning away from summer weather concerns to those more commonly associated with winter — the arrival of snow and ice, yes, but also winter home and car preparations, winter survival preparations and for those really thinking ahead, the needed supplies for the extended power outages brought about by an especially nasty ice storm.

The National Weather Service, for the most part, has its bases covered. “For the most part,” because their Winter Weather Awareness Week is scheduled for the first full week of November in Pennsylvania and the second full week of November in Ohio. Already this week, Pennsylvania has been battling snow in combination with Hurricane Sandy. Ohio and West Virginia too, have been dealing with the early winter snows that have been brought about by the broad circulation of Hurricane Sandy. Fortunately,  New York, Virginia and the New England states held their WWA campaigns last week.

These campaigns from the National Weather Service are only courtesy reminders. Helpful, no doubt, but only reminders to all of us who usually push it to the back burner or just ignore it because it always happens to the other guy. Reminders are very helpful in those circumstances — but only to those willing to be reminded.

Hurricane Sandy destruction in the borough of Queens, New York. Image: Reuters

The good news though is that an emergency kit (you have one, right?) is an emergency kit. With minor local variations (a favored term in the weather business), an emergency kit is not specific to any one geographic location, emergency or weather hazard. The emergency kit you prepared in Houston is still tremendously helpful when you move to Ohio or Montana and your focus shifts from hurricanes to snow. In fact, the Winter Weather Awareness campaigns from the National Weather Service are the same every year and don’t vary by much. And, just because the heavy snow has already begun to fly, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to prepare for what’s sure to come — if not this year, then perhaps next year or the year after.

Here’s what the American Red Cross recommends for your winter storm supply kit (regular readers of YourWeatherBlog will know that most of these items are not unique to winter survival):

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers (hand-crank chargers are now available)
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
  • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
  • Ample alternate heating methods such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves

Winter or summer, being prepared is being prepared. Awareness campaigns fall on deaf ears if you don’t think it will happen to you or if you don’t have time to address it now rather than when time allows (time will never allow; you’ll have to make the time). With images of the destruction on the East Coast today, the thousands of images yet to come, and the millions of personal survival stories now being written, now is the perfect time to be spurred into action and begin preparing (or supplementing) your emergency kit.

Our hearts and prayers are with all of the millions affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you’d like to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts you can visit a couple of my favorites, the American Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse.

YourWeatherBlog has written about emergency kits and emergency preparations before. Your can use the search feature at the top of this page, or click here, here and here for a few of those articles. And don’t forget, your kit should be reviewed and updated a couple of times per year — throw out the old stuff beyond its expiration date, bring in some new replacement stuff and consider adding and upgrading when your wallet allows. And while you’re at it, toss in a few little treats for you and your family, too. There’s nothing sweeter than an “emergency” chocolate bar when you’ve not had a shower in four days and you’ve been eating nothing but Spam and Ramen Noodles for a week (Ramen recipes).

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