• heidibest

Prep For The Worst, Hope For The Best

It looks like another Winter Storm is coming our way this weekend and although we all enjoyed a little change of weather and a little sprinkling of snow in our yards, this one sounds like its going to be quite a bit more severe. Tom Wright, a local meteorologist says it's hard to be specific yet because there is still a lot that could change with the forecast. But he states, “The potential impact with this one is so high, it's worth planning like its going to happen. The other thing to consider is, the cold coming in behind the snow. Lows in the 20’s and highs barely too freezing. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

“Everything is pointing to the whole Puget Sound area getting a pretty good snowstorm Friday into Saturday. The tips we always give are to stay home if you really do not have to go somewhere. You know how Seattle is: the roads will be a parking lot with just a little snow, but the forecast is far more than a little. And being from Seattle myself, even the slightest hill can be impassable without the right equipment (studs, chains, 4WD) on your vehicle.”

Ed Troyer, the Public Information Officer from the Pierce County Sheriff said, "Don’t leave you car running to warm up un attended one out of 3 cars in the last week were taken with engine running. Also yes check on elderly and vulnerable neighbors."

So the bad news is that there is a serious winter storm coming right at us, but the good news is that there is still plenty we can do to prepare for it. The to do list that pros tackle when storm is coming is something we should all take a look at and consider checking as many off as we can.

1.) Stock up on de-icing salt and sand.

Put a little salt down on your front walk and sidewalks a couple of hours before it starts snowing. This is what the road crews do to get a jump on a storm. When it starts to snow, the salt will activate and start to melt it. Have sand handy for after the storm so you can sprinkle patches of ice or crusty snow. Always store sand indoors, as the moisture in it can cause it to freeze. You can purchase these supplies at your local Ace Hardware Store.

2.) Pull out your snow blower.

Fire up that snow blower and make sure it works. If you have time, consider getting some extra parts for it, such as shear pins, bolts or clips, so you have them on hand if something should break and you can’t get out to the hardware or big box store. Put the blower by the first point of exit out of the house and cover it up with a tarp so you can easily access it when you want to start tackling the snowfall. Buy extra gas, as you could be blowing snow for a while if forecasters are correct.

3.) Check your gutters.

Hopefully you had your gutters cleaned when the last of the fall leaves came down. If not, call and beg your gutter cleaner to come right now. At least clear out the pile of leaves at the bottom of your downspouts so that the melting snow can drain out to prevent ice damming. Also clean out your basement stairway drain.

4.) Get ready for the big meltdown.

Test your sump pump by dumping five gallons of water around it to see whether it activates. Install plastic window well covers or at least put up plastic with tape on top of your wells to try and keep the melting water from seeping into your basement windows.

5.) Store water.

If the power goes out and you need force to flush your toilet, you’ll want to have water stockpiled. Buy three or four five-gallon buckets with lids, fill them, and keep them in your basement. If you can’t get out to buy the buckets, fill your bathtubs. Or do both.

6.) Prepare your snow shovel.

Before you start clearing snow, spray the top of your shovel with nonstick cooking spray. Then the snow will slide right off of it when you throw it to the side. No sticking. Martinisko, who is tall, likes an aluminum shovel with slightly raised sides and a long handle.

The thing about a winter storm is it can keep you trapped for days without power. Years ago my family was stuck in a snow storm in upstate new York that lasted almost two weeks without power to our apartment on the military base. Several of our neighbors had generators and regularly offered to share their electricity with those of us that did not have access to power. We used our gas oven for heat in our tiny apartment because we had a baby that we were worried about. But the generosity of our neighbors really got us through what could have been a dangerous situation. It is really important to remember those in the community that may not be able to “weather” this kind of winter storm like the rest of us. Check on your elderly neighbors, outdoor pets, and those who may be the most vulnerable through the weekend.

When it comes to all of the day to day precautions to think about before the storm hits, the national weather service advises:

  • Stock up on fuel for the generator.

  • Charge your phones, electronics, rechargeable batteries, and power banks.

  • Make sure flashlights are easily accessible.

  • Fill your gas tank.

  • Stock up on non-perishable foods and toilet paper.

  • Bring your pets and plants inside.

  • Make sure your fireplaces and stoves are clean and in working order.

  • Insulate water pipes with newspapers or other insulation materials.

And during the storm:

  • Keep your thermostat as high as possible for as long as you have electricity.

  • Stay inside. Limit travel to emergencies only.

  • Keep pipes from freezing by turning on every water faucet to a slow drip.

  • Wear dry or waterproof clothes.

  • Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids.

If the power goes out:

  • If you have one, use a generator and have it power important devices, like the refrigerator and thermostat.

  • Unplug computers and other non-essential electrical equipment to avoid a power surge.

  • Keep the freezer and refrigerator door closed to keep food from spoiling. For extended periods of no electricity, move perishables to garage to stay frozen.

  • Use flashlights to avoid a risk of a fire.

  • When cooking, be mindful of fumes and carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Have family members dress in layers, and use blankets and towels for extra warmth.

  • Listen for weather updates on the weather radio.

And after the storm:

  • Handle your generator safely to avoid electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning, or fire.

  • Continue to listen to the local news or the weather radio for updates and closures.

  • Use sand, ice melt, or kitty litter to add traction to slippery surfaces.

  • Avoid driving until conditions improve.

  • Ensure your pets and family members have access to food and water.

  • Shovel snow safely and stay aware of your health condition to avoid overexertion.

If you are worried about an elderly neighbor and do not have the resources to care or check on them, please call the non-emergency police line. The pierce county number is: 253.798.4721

Written by:

Heidi Best

Marketing Manager, Crane and Chorak

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