It’s #tbt at Echo – here we share posts that were originally shared at Efficiency by Emily or emilyhoapili.com. It’s been updated before posting here.
I’m writing this post a few hours before a major snowstorm hits. I could write an entire blog post as to the many reasons why I’m not happy that it’s going to snow, but I’ll spare you all from having to read that. Most of all, while I’m not happy it’s going to snow, I’m ready for it to snow.
I have a few broad rules that I apply to everything in my life, one of them being “Be Ready for Any and Every Thing.”
Does that mean I always avoid risk? No. Everything has risk. You can’t prevent everything and so many things, (read: all things), are not 100% safe. As such, I’m not suggesting you avoid risk (because you can’t), but rather, you should be prepared to respond to risk.
I say all that to say that as a preface for this post because this is not a post to lecture or tell you NOT to do something.
This is a post to talk about being prepared for the unexpected.
Admittedly, I’m a total geek when it comes to emergency management. My background includes positions that required me to be on top of planning and ready for disaster, and it spilled over into my personal life.
Most of us think “that won’t happen to me.”
Maybe it won’t. Maybe it will. No matter where you live, you’re going to need to be prepared for weather-related or natural disaster events. You may not have to deal with earthquakes or hurricanes, but rain and fire and sinkholes happen anywhere. If we pay attention to the movies, zombies are coming any day now.
Most disaster-related events can be planned for once, and then adjusted as the situation dictates.
I actually planned to write this post awhile back, and then Mother Nature tried to be helpful and sent us a blizzard for me to record my plan and somewhat journal the process. Helpful for the blog, maybe, but after being stuck in my house for a few days, can Mother Nature send me some 80 degree weather now (Update: She sent 70 degree weather a few days after the snow…works for me!)?
With this blizzard moving towards us, I’m ready. Why? Because I have a quick list I do for every weather-related event:
Here in Virginia, we stock up on water and toilet paper and bread. Shelves go bare. Grocery stores become circuses. It actually cracks me up, because we go all out as though we’re about to be stuck in a home for the rest of our lives. But, I do make sure I’ve got the basics: bottled water, toilet paper, non-perishable foods, and TREATS. Be sure you get some things you like so you’re not stuck in your house AND deprived from wine or chocolate. This storm, I avoided the crowds and headaches and did the whole “order ahead and pick up” at my local grocery store. GAME. CHANGER.
Get your car gassed up, but don’t forget about gas for any equipment you may use (generators, snowblowers, etc). Have enough so if you have to evacuate you can, including idling in traffic. Even if your roads are okay, you don’t want to worry about stations running out of gas or increasing prices. Also, if you’re in an area like mine, the plows won’t touch the gas stations for awhile, which means getting gas becomes a major hassle.
Flashlights. Blankets. Candles. Matches. All the things you need for power outages should be checked and stored somewhere close to get your hands on when needed. What will you need post-storm? Get the snow shovel and ice scrapers out now. Get your hands on your winter coats or rain slickers and your snow boots or rain boots. You could even take it a step further and check the first aid kits, car kits, medications, etc. Check your contact info too – do you have all the emergency numbers you’ll need (police, power company, etc) ready if needed?
This is also the time to prepare your home as needed (boarding windows, securing patio furniture, putting faucets to drip, etc).
I live in Virginia, where Hurricane Matthew struck a few months ago. Unfortunately, our local weather team really dropped the ball and “it won’t be bad here” became a literal federal disaster. We flooded, many to the point where their homes were inhabitable, even now. I realized then we had relied way too hard on the local weather team’s assurances. Thankfully, our damage was relatively minimal, and we didn’t run out of food or supplies, but it was a reminder to always plan for the worst.
With this storm, I asked myself what is my likely worst-case scenario? Right now, with the snow on its way, it’s that we lose power. I don’t have a fireplace, and our heat is electric. I’m also a wimp, so if the power is out and it gets cold in here, I’m going to be unbearable to be around. So, I’ve stocked up, gassed up, and geared up, but I also have a plan in place with my family as to what we’ll do if we lose power for an extended period of time (battery-operated candles within easy reach, cell phones stay charged up, be ready to go out to a hotel or friend’s house if needed).
Coming back to this post after the storm, our plan worked.
We had done our laundry and ran the dishwasher ahead of time. I showered early on (I don’t do cold showers even in summer, and the thought of having to get clean in a dark, cold house made me nervous). Then, we did the usual snow day activities. Read, watched TV, got out the MacBooks, ate the junk food, etc. We did lose power one night, but it came back before we went to bed. However, when the power went out, we immediately sprang into action (well, actually, I said a few swear words first, then got up). Candles set out. Curtains pulled to prevent heat escape. Phones went on airplane mode to conserve battery. And while I was nervous, I wasn’t panicking. My phone was charged, I was clean, and I had a plan. We played cards (I won, for the record), and we (mostly) just relaxed.
You likely already do most of what I’ve listed here, even subconsciously, anytime you’re expecting a storm.
The big take-away from today’s post is to assume the worst will happen. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they (or at least my Grandma) say. The peace of mind brought when disaster strikes by not wondering what you have to do but knowing what you have to do is a game-changer. Make a list. Go above and beyond, and be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.
But Mother Nature, if you’re reading this, please don’t send me any more snow.
Update: I am posting this again a year later, and on the first day I was able to get out of my house because we got a bunch of snow again. The plan works, but apparently Mother Nature did not listen to my pleas last year.