Prepare for emergency winter events before getting stranded.
For this weekend's impending blizzard, make sure to minimize travel, keep dry and bring your pets inside. Here’s a compilation of snowstorm checklists from American Red Cross, the CDC and FEMA.
- Withdraw cash from the ATM beforehand, especially in case widespread power outages occur.
Have a first aid kit ready. Refill all of your prescriptions for at least a week's supply. Also make sure you’ve stocked for other medical items, such as contact lens solution and extra batteries for hearing aids. Don't forget any hygienic products like extra tampons and toothpaste.
- Lots of warm clothing and blankets are a must.
- If you have little ones, check baby supplies like formula, clean bottles, diapers and baby food. Make sure you have enough!
- Prepare battery-powered flashlights or lanterns (with extra batteries!). If the power goes out, avoid using candles. If you do use them, never leave them alone.
- Get a portable cell phone charger if you don't have one -- the kind that will work without electricy.
- Have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector as back-up.
- A battery-powered radio will help keep you connected to alerts if the power does go out.
- Batteries, batteries, batteries.
Have a supply of drinking water for at least three days. For other water sources, you can fill your bathtub. As a final resort, you can melt snow; boiling it will get rid of germs but may not get rid of some accumulated chemicals in it.
Have a supply of canned or easily preparable food for at least three days. Look for peanut butter, crackers, trail mixes, and canned meats or fish. Some fruits like citrus fruits have a shelf life of two weeks without refrigeration. And by the way, don't expect grocery delivery to go out in what is likely to be dangerous conditions; Peapod has already said they are canceling Saturday and Sunday delivery.
- If you have a pet, don't forget pet supplies!
- If you have another supply of heat, such as by space or kerosene heaters, make sure to keep them at least three feet away from anything flammable such as furniture or drapes. Never, ever leave kerosene heaters unattended, and make sure that both space heaters and kerosene heaters are turned off when you go to sleep.
- Keep a supply of rock salt for walkways and sand or cat litter to add traction. Also, help your neighborhood by digging out fire hydrants and note where fire hydrants are in your area.
- If you must use your car (which officials are strongly warning against), stock it with a mini kit of supplies, including a first aid kit, blankets, extra clothing, batteries, cell phone charger and booster cables.
BONUS ROUND: Go ahead and program your local utility contact information into your cell phone now, before you need them. Important utility numbers include:
- Pepco: 877-PEPCO-62
- Dominion Virginia: 866-DOM-HELP
- Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E): 877-778-2222
- SMECO: 877-74-SMECO
- Washington Gas: 800-752-7520 or 703-750-1400
- Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC): 800-828-6439