NORTH ALABAMA: ARE YOU WINTER WEATHER READY?
And what exactly does that mean?
This Wednesday night (3/4) and Thursday morning (3/5), Alabama is expecting severe winter weather that the NWS originally had labeled “disastrous.” I am not sure I entirely agreed with the adjective “disastrous,” but it wass definitely going to suck. All models agreed that Alabama was getting it, but they disagreed on the time Alabama was going to be hit by it.
So are you ready for what comes with it? Because you really don’t need bread and milk.
North Alabama was originally expecting 1/2″ to 3/4″ of ice accumulation with single-digit temps followed by snowfall, but models are now showing 1/4″ ice accumulations with low to mid-teen temps. That much ice accumulation puts tree limbs and power lines in jeopardy of coming down, which means you could lose power: even lose it for several days if crews cannot get out right away. Your milk isn’t going to do you any good in a fridge without power (or outside where it will freeze solid).
So what do you need?
- Make sure you have non-perishable food items.
- Make sure your car’s gas tank is full in case power is out for an extended period and gas stations are shut down. It will not hurt to fill your gas cans, either. If you do not use them, then that is one less thing you have to do in a month when it is time to mow your lawn the first time.
- Make sure you have an alternative way to cook food if you have an electric stove in your house and you lose electricity. A camp stove or grill are great ways to cook when the power’s out. If you have a charcoal grill, make sure you have a few bags of charcoal ready to go. If you have a propane grill, make sure your tank is at least 1/2 full. If you have a camp stove, make sure you have enough mini-propane tanks.
- Make sure you have bottled water. Freezing pipes is a big possibility, and thanks to single-digit temps, not just the ones inside your house, but the larger one coming to your house from the street may freeze as well, cutting water off to your house completely. Make sure your bottled water is not in your garage: bottled water is no good to you if it is frozen solid.
- Make sure all your electronics are fully charged. Make sure you have a supply of batteries ready to go for battery-operated electronics, flashlights, LED Lights, etc. If you lose power, only use your phone for emergencies to conserve battery life. Make sure you turn off your WiFi on your phone so it does not waste battery searching for a WiFi signal. If cell service goes down, put your phone on airplane mode to conserve battery and check every few hours to see if cell signal is back. If you have an inverter for your car, that is great, but remember to start your engine and run it for a few minutes while you are using the inverter. Inverters can drain batteries quickly, especially older batteries or batteries that have been jump-started before. Keep in mind that using the inverter, and thus running the engine, is using your gas, so be mindful of how much you use it.
- Keep flashlights or lanterns nearby and ready to go. Make sure you have lighters/matches to light any candles or kerosene/propane lanterns you have. Make sure lighters and matches are in an easy-to-find place so you are not digging for them in the dark.
- You should already have a NOAA Weather Radio. If you don not have one, do yourself and your family a favor and spend the extra money next payday to buy one. The NOAA Weather Radio is an invaluable asset, especially if you cannot hear tornado sirens where you live, sirens do not wake you up when you are sleeping, or the power goes out so you cannot get Internet or TV news. The NOAA Weather Radio can SAVE YOUR LIFE!
- Make sure any prescription medication is easily accessible so you are not fumbling in the dark trying to find your pills. If you are running low on one and it is ready for a refill, take care of that now: not the day the storm is supposed to be on top of you.
- Your house should already have a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher in it. Make sure everyone knows where those are at and they are easily accessible in the dark.
- Make sure you have a heat source in case you lose power: wood or Chemlogs for the fireplace (please make sure your chimney vent is open before lighting a fire), extra blankets, etc. If the power goes out, you can cover windows with blankets or sheets to help keep cold air at bay and keep the inside of the house warmer just a little bit longer. Close off unused rooms to keep the heat from moving into the rooms (and their cold air from moving into the used rooms). Place towels, rags, pillow cases, etc. along the bottom of doors or windows with bad weather stripping to keep the cold air out and the warmer air inside. Dress in layers.
- Don’t forget about your pets. Your pets need to come inside. It doesn’t matter if your pet is outside the rest of the year – your pet cannot handle single-digit temperatures and their food and water will freeze. Bring your pets inside and make sure they have plenty of food and water. Don’t forget to take into account your pets when getting bottled water.
- Talk to everyone in your household about safety and evacuation plans. Where is the safe places to hunker down within your house to ride out a storm? Where is a safe place to meet if you are separated during a storm event, evacuation, etc? Have a practice drill now and then (at least twice a year) to make sure everyone is familiar with the plan and can execute it properly.
- Have a “bug-out bag” ready to go. This doesn’t mean you need a prepper bag full of seeds and ammunition. It means you need the basics ready to go in case something happens (like a tree falling on your house, or a lightning strike causing a house fire). Underwear, change of clothes, toiletries, baby diapers, etc. One thing people often forget is important paperwork. Scan your important documents and put them on a small flash drive (or CD-R) that can go in your bag (marriage license/certificate, mortgage, insurance paperwork (auto,car & life), birth certificates, etc). This should be in your room where you can grab it quickly as you escape your house. Your bag should also contain some cash because an extended power outage means no credit card readers are going to be working.
- Make sure your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts are updated in your phone.
Stay calm. Don’t panic. Panic leads to bad decision making. Be aware of your surroundings. Stay safe and stay warm.
Best wishes, as always,