A powerful winter storm is threatening parts of the eastern United States with freezing rain, sleet and snow, as experts urge Americans to prepare.
Make sure you’ve followed the basics: learn how to keep your pipes from freezing (for example, you can open cabinets in places like under sinks to let in heat or let faucets drip), test alarms smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, have batteries for radios and flashlights, charge electronic devices and consider the specific needs of each member of your household, such as medications.
And make sure you have all the grocery supplies you need.
These types of storms – and their aftermath – can cut heat, electricity or communication services. Because we don’t yet know how severe the impacts will be and how long they will last, and amid supply chain issues that could further compound groceries issues this weekend, have at least three days food and water for everyone in your home, says Joann Sands, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, which trains students in disaster and emergency preparedness. emergency.
Choose groceries that have a long shelf life, don’t require cooking, and aren’t too salty or spicy because these foods mean you’ll likely drink more water, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend. United States.
Here’s what you need to make sure you store in your home.
Protein-rich, non-perishable foods
These include foods like energy bars and protein and fruit bars that don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen, Sands said.
Dry cereal, granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, and non-perishable pasteurized milk are also good to have while you lay down.
Remember that the power may be out when the storm hits your area, so have ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and juices with you along with a manual can opener, according to Ready.gov .
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, canned diet foods, juices and soups may be especially helpful for the elderly or sick.
If a can is swollen, dented or corroded, do not eat it.
While not essential, experts recommend that you have comfort and stress-relieving foods on hand when you weather the storm.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household and for each pet, the CDC recommends. FEMA recommends storing at least one gallon of water for each person in your household each day.
Unopened commercial bottled water is the safest and most reliable water supply, according to the agency. If it’s store-bought water, be sure to check the expiration date.
Plastic bags and containers
Also, be sure to have plastic bags on hand, as you can wrap perishable foods — like cookies — in them and place them in sealed containers, according to FEMA.
Cardboard disposable plates, cups and utensils
If you lack electricity and water, having paper plates and utensils can help you prepare and eat your meals safely, according to the CDC.
Think babies – and pets
When preparing, do not forget babies and pets in the house.
Make sure you have enough infant formula, as well as anything an infant might need, like diapers, Sands said.
Also, be sure to have several days worth of pet supplies, such as medications and non-perishable food.
(And maybe some treats, as storms can be stressful for them too.)
Check that you have the hygiene products you need, including feminine supplies, toilet paper, wet wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer.
Have an emergency kit
It’s always good to have a disaster kit on hand that’s in a portable container near the exit from your home.
These should include: non-perishable food and a three-day supply of water, battery operated radio and flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit with manual, hygiene items, matches in a waterproof container, a whistle to signal for help if you need it, clothes, blankets and sleeping bags, ID cards, credit cards and money, paper and a pencil, items to cover baby and pet needs and any special items like medicine, contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids and activities for younger children.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you must also include items such as face masks.
Know this about items in the fridge:
It’s important not to panic, shop and try to fill your fridge, Sands said.
“How are you going to be able to store this food if you don’t have electricity? Sands said, adding that stocking up on extra groceries can not only lead to food waste, but could also hurt other people who might not be able to find what they’re looking for.
In the event of a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, to avoid letting in cold air. If left unopened, your refrigerator will be able to keep food cold for about four hours, according to Ready.gov.
Throw out any perishable food — like meat, poultry, eggs, or leftovers — that has been left at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.
Fill up your gas tank
During a winter storm, you should try to minimize travel as much as possible, to avoid getting stuck on the road. Make sure if you have to go out you have a full tank of gas, Sands said.
It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit inside each of your family’s vehicles, in case you get stuck.
Here’s what to pack in your car to stay safe.
Tips to keep in mind before the storm
- Have important documents handy in the event of an evacuation, including home or renter’s insurance, Social Security cards, birth certificates and passports, Sands said.
- Create a family communication plan for how you can get in touch if you are separated during the storm.
- Do not bring portable generators, camp stoves and grills inside your home. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your windows, doors, and air vents, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Here’s what those might look like.
- Plan to watch your elderly or disabled neighbors and friends.
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