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Pinedale Online > News > October 2013 > Weathering the storm
Weathering the storm
by Pinedale Online!
October 15, 2013

Winter in Wyoming brings cold temperatures, continuous snow-covered ground, and difficult living conditions. Temperatures can dip to more than 40 below zero for days at a time. Electricity outages can last for hours or even days in extreme cases. That means no electric heat, no power to well pumps, and difficult travel conditions. Without proper care, water and sewer lines can freeze solid. Here are winter survival tips to prepare for what the elements throw at us here in Wyoming.

1. Winterize your home Make sure windows are sealed, the house has good insulation, leaks repaired, vulnerable water pipes wrapped with insulation or heat tape, smoke and CO2 alarms have fresh batteries, and have a good fire extinguisher handy. Consider adding an alternative backup for heating and cooking needs in case your primary system goes out. Consider having a generator and fuel on hand for emergency electrical power. If you use a well for your water supply, consider an alternative method to power the pump if electricity goes out, or stockpile extra water for family needs for hours or days until power returns.
2. Assemble a home preparedness kit Useful supplies to help in the event of any kind of emergency include a flashlight, non-perishable foods, a manual can opener, bottled water (5 gallons per person), blankets, warm clothing (coats, hats, gloves, socks, thermal long johns), winter footwear, a battery-operated radio and clock, extra batteries, extra cash, alternative home heat source, alternative light source, candles, matches, alternative cooking means and fuel, games/books/cards for entertainment, and pet supplies. Also remember to restock the medicine cabinet with updated non-prescription pain relievers, cold remedies, first aid supplies and prescription medicines so you can take care of anyone with an illness during emergency situations.
3. Rotate your food stockpile If you’ve been well prepared for years, you might find that your food stockpile is getting close to the expiration date on some canned items. Now is a good time to consider rotating those supplies and bringing in fresh items. The local Food Basket would be delighted to get your older canned goods to give to needy families. Requests for their food supply services go up in the winter and near the holidays. Local grocery stores often offer canned good case-lot sales during the fall months, so it is a great time to freshen and rotate your long-term food storage stockpile.
4. Have a preparedness mindset at home, work, church, and in the community If you are able to stabilize the needs for yourself and your family, you might consider expanding your reach to help cover the needs for others who might not be as prepared as you are. Consider encouraging your church, place of work, and community organizations to put in a supplemental emergency supply stockpile for the needs of their people should an emergency or disaster strike. Local supply stockpiles can help communities be independently prepared to survive emergency situations. Even apartment dwellers with minimal extra storage space can put in a handy well-thought out food and supply stockpile that can get them through short-term survival situations. Consider also that minimizing debt and monthly bills and having extra cash on hand can be extremely helpful to avoid fiscal crisis in emergency situations.

Vehicle Winter Survival Kit
Many people live in rural areas in Wyoming. During emergency situations, you may be stranded at an isolated structure or on the road in your vehicle. It is a good idea to prepare a winter survival kit for each vehicle that is driven during the winter and that it is not taken out. Update the contents of your kit on a regular basis and make sure all drivers and passengers know where to find it.

The type of kit you prepare is up to you, and the container can be anything ranging from cardboard boxes, large plastic ammo cans, and milk crates for the gallon-size fluid containers, to a Rubbermaid type box. The very basics should provide for water, food and warmth. You can add additional items and eventually develop a large kit, but you do not need to fill up the trunk.

Here are some of the basic items that it should contain:
1. Extra clothing, such as parka, boots, long underwear, heavy socks, mittens, ski mask.
2. Emergency blankets - wool blankets, sleeping bags - 2 large green or black plastic leaf bags (to reflect body heat) and some safety pins (the bags are for insulation for feet, safety pins keep the bags together.)
3. Heat reflective tarp -space blankets and tape (to use insulate windows, not as blankets.)
4. Signal mirror and a plastic coach’s type whistle to signal help in case you hear a rescuer who cannot see you.
5. Bright red or orange cloth, or a roll of bright surveyor tape to attach to your antenna to draw attention to your car in heavy snow.
6. Water – 1 gallon per person - but do not eat snow! This uses up body heat and lowers your body temperature. Eating snow also dehydrates your body resulting in a net water loss! (Remember water expands when it freezes and may break containers if left in extreme cold.)
7. Flashlight with extra batteries (reverse the batteries to avoid accidental switching and burnout, and replace batteries yearly) warm batteries before using them. 12-hour light sticks are also a good addition.
8. Honey, hard candy, jellybeans, raisins, nuts, candy bars, chewing gum, dehydrated fruit, and jerky, high calorie and high-energy food such as snack bars, fruit rollups. Anything that does not need cooking is good to prolong your body's ability to generate heat in the event of being stranded for a long period.
9. Toilet tissue and a coffee can with a sealable lid for a makeshift toilet. Plastic bags for sanitation are helpful along with wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
10. Cell phone and charger. An old digital cell phone with the charger is perfect to put in the kit and leave. Service is not needed to make 911 calls on most modern cell phones and cell networks can triangulate your position, which is very handy in an emergency. Even "out-of-service" cell phones can still dial 911, although most analog phones will not work. If you do not have an extra phone, get a $20 pre-paid phone with roaming.
11. Medium-sized snow shovel or a collapsible shovel.
12. Jumper cables and a tow rope or chain
13. Tire chains (know how to put them on your vehicle!)
14. Gas line antifreeze (use as recommended during winter to avoid problems)
15. Gallon container of defrosting windshield fluid, premixed antifreeze
16. Vehicle repair kit (pliers, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, cable ties, wire, electrical tape, duct tape, fuses, etc)
17. Bag of sand or non-clumping kitty litter for traction assistance or traction mats, can also use your car floor mats.
18. Snow brush and ice scraper
19. Sunglasses or ski goggles
20. Hand warmers (chemical type)
21. Fire extinguisher
22. Compass and maps
23. 50+ SPF sunscreen- you will quickly sunburn in snow conditions
24. Paper & pencils
25. First aid kit/book, aspirin or equivalent and with Imodium, decongestant, etc
26. Rain coat
27. Reflective tape or reflective triangles (flares are hard to find) if you are foregoing the reflective triangles you should at least get the reflective tape. This is the same type of reflective material seen on traffic signs; it will be great if you are changing your tire in the dark.
28. Extra newspaper for insulation
29. Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child.
30. Pet needs (food, water and warmth).
31. Prescription medication for you and any passengers.

Related Links
  • Advance preparations and safety tips for winter power outages - Rocky Mountain Power
  • Winter driving tips from WYDOT - Wyoming Department of Transportation
  • Winter is coming - be prepared
  • Pinedale Online > News > October 2013 > Weathering the storm

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