Mother Nature reminded us last weekend that she’s still the boss. Freezing rain set in last Saturday and continued throughout the night leaving hundreds of thousands without heat or hydro just days before Christmas. The severe ice storm caused power outages all over Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Saturday also marked the first day of winter. Here on Six Nations, many homes were without electricity or heat for up to three days.
Social Services opened their doors Monday for those without heat. Visitors were invited to use the kitchen facilities and staff scrambled to try and bring showers in as well. In the past, Six Nations Council via Social Services opened their gymnasium for residents of Six Nations in the event of severe weather emergencies that knock out electricity and heat.
Last week’s storm reminds us of how vulnerable we are in emergency situations. As winter has only begun, the recent ice storm may be just a taste of what is yet to come. Knowing what to do, where to go and what to have handy could mean the difference between being in a dangerous situation and being safe. Below are a few things to consider:
For your vehicle:
– Having your car winter-ready will save you time and hassle. Having a set of good winter tires on your vehicle will be safer when driving on snow and ice covered roads. But no matter how safe you feel your vehicle is, always practice good driving skills. In doing otherwise, you’re not only putting yourself at risk but you’re putting others at risk too.
– Make sure to keep a snow scraper in your vehicle at all times as well as a small shovel in case you need to dig yourself out of the snow.
– Keep you windshield wiper fluids topped up as well.
– Keep bags of sand or salt in the back of your car. Salt will help if you get stuck in the snow or on ice, just toss some under your wheels in whatever direction you are going. Sandbags will shift the weight to the back of your vehicle, which will give you better traction on slippery surfaces.
For your home:
– Don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on necessities, start preparing now. Buy non-perishable food items which will last days, if not weeks, in the event that you are stuck at home indefinitely. Some food items to consider: potatoes, canned food, dried beans, rice, coffee, tea, flour and plenty of drinking water.
– In the event another ice storm knocks out hydro, food in the freezer can easily be kept frozen by placing it in a well-sealed box or bag and placed outside in a spot not accessible to wild animals or dogs.
– Keep extra blankets in your house. It is also good to have extra batteries in a place that is easily accessible (for flashlights, radios etc). Also have candles in places where you can easily locate them in the dark and matches or lighters nearby.
– If hydro is out for more then a day, you may have to shift into survival mode. It may come in handy to know how to start an outdoor fire, in a safe spot, that you may have to cook on. So be sure to keep extra pots and pans in your house that you don’t mind getting black from the fire and smoke. And always make sure the fire is completely extinguished when you are finished with it.
– You will also need wood to keep your fire going. It may benefit you in the long run to gather some wood now and keep it under a tarp in a convenient location.
– The most important aspect of staying safe in the winter and without hydro or heat is having good winter clothing. Find clothes that will not only keep you warm, but will dry quickly in the event you get them wet. Cotton is the worst type of clothing you could be wearing in extreme cold conditions. In the event your clothes get wet, cotton takes a long time to dry. To prevent hypothermia or frost bite, wear clothes that will keep you warm and that dry quickly, such as fleece or wool.
Generators and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
– Every year hundreds of people go to emergency rooms with carbon monoxide poisoning. In the event the hydro goes out due to a severe storm and you have a generator for those ‘just in case’ moments, know the hazards! Make sure you place the generator in a well-ventilated area outside of your home.
Having all of this in place will make the next winter storm a little more bearable.