Preparing for a Storm

10:18 AM


1.  Park strategically!  If you live on a secondary street or a street that is slow to get plowed consider parking (legally) on a nearby main street.  Main streets usually get plowed first so you're less likely to be stuck in the house, on your block or in your neighborhood.  There is a small business near me that has plenty of parking.  For a few bucks he'll let me park in his lot.

2.  Know local snow regulations!  In many communities the laws change based on the weather.  In my community it's illegal to park on side streets when the snow falls.  That means you can't park in front of your own house.  The last thing you want in a big storm is a ticket or to be towed.  Know the laws and obey them!

3.  Stock up.  Yes you'll need bread, eggs, toilet paper and milk.   Don't forget hot cocoa, fire wood and the adult beverage of your choice.

4.  Birth Control.  There's an excellent chance that you'll be spending extra time with the one you love.  Be prepared.

5.  But a black out light.  This is a flash light that stays plugged in in a common area of the house.  (Ours is plugged in in the main hallway).  When the lights go out this light automatically comes on.  It's rechargeable and lights our way when the power goes out.  There are various versions of these lights.  I bought mine from Home Depot for about $12.  Eton makes a light called the Black Out Buddy.

6.  Have cash on hand, especially small bills.  It can be a challenge to break large bills when everything is fine.  Save yourself a headache and keep smaller bills on hand.  They're useful for tipping a shoveler, bartering with neighbors or a quick trip to the store.

7.  Keep healthy snacks on hand.  Chips and popcorn are great, but make sure you keep fresh fruit in the mix.  Greasy snacks may make you feel bloated and sluggish.  Apples, oranges and bananas are a nice alternative to unhealthy treats.

8.  Charge all of your electronics, even the ones you don't use that often.  If your main phone or tablet goes out, it's nice to have a back up both for communication and entertainment.

9. Inflate your sleds!  Inflatable sleds can take FOREVER to blow up.  Inflate them early so you're all ready to go!

10.  Identify the good sled hills and map your route!  Know where to go once the snow is done falling.

11.  Find a great recipe for snow ice cream.  There are tons of them on the Internet!  I even have one on this blog.

12.  Prepare to work from home for a few days.  Make sure that your home computer has necessary and or updated software so that you can telecommute with ease!  Also, keep the phone number for tech support on hand.


1. Pack a suitcase (including medication and toys) before the lights go out. That way everything is ready in case you need to evacuate.

2. Add bags of ice to your freezer.  It will keep food cold longer while the power is out.

3. If you have a deep freezer, put all the food from the fridge in the deep freeze to minimize loss.

4. If you evacuate to a hotel, bring an electric skillet or electric griddle, food and a cooler. Cooking in your room will save money.

5. In advance of a storm locate books, board games, toys and other entertainment that doesn't require electricity.  Crayons, paper and art supplies can be a real life saver if you have kids.

6. Make a communication plan with friends and family.  Decide in advance if you will stay in touch via phone, text, email or some other way.

7. If you evacuate to a friend's house, bring the fresh food from your fridge. You can share your food with your hosts and keep in from spoiling at your house while you're gone.

8. If you evacuate to a hotel, ask about their plan for hotel guests should the power go out. Some hotels have will have a generator that provides for in room power only. Meaning there will be no lights in the halls. Other hotels will have full power throughout the facility.

9. If you evacuate to a hotel, bring a swimsuit. An indoor pool is a great way to pass the time.

10. If you have a fireplace, pick up firewood before the storm.

11. If you have a gas stove you can likely cook even though the lights are out. Use a match to light the burners.

12. Charge all electronic devices (phones, games, iPod/iPad, portable DVD player) and locate car chargers.

13.  Clean the house before the storm.  It's easier to locate necessary items if they are in their rightful place.  Also, there's nothing worse than stepping on toys, valuables or a wayward battery in the dark.

14.  Stock up on pet food and supplies including litter, newspaper and wee wee pads.  If your pet needs to potty indoors, being prepared can reduce the mess, odor and frustration.

15.  Sign up for text alerts from your state emergency management center and local utility companies.

16.  If you participate in a credit card or hotel points program, check you point balance.  You may be able to use points for a local hotel, flights or gas.

17.  Ask about distress rates at local hotels and apartment buildings.  During a recent storm our local hotel was sold out but a nearby luxury apartment building rented out their model units for a very good rate.  The apartment building didn't advertise the rentals, but offered the available units to area families that called and asked.

18.   If you have to leave your home, leave your porch light on.  This allows friends and neighbors check if your power is on without entering your house.

19.  Go for a walk or exercise before the storm.  You'll likely feel less restless when stuck inside if you have a good workout under your belt.

20.  Keep a camera handy.  Not only can you record fun storm memories, but you'll also be able to photograph any damage to your home, car or other property.

Be safe and enjoy the storm!
Author's Note:  This post was originally written for the Huffington Post' Parents section.  I wrote this back in 2012 on the heels of a giant storm that knocked out our power for a couple of days.  

When this piece originally appeared in Huff Po some people were upset about my electric skillet suggestion.  I will simply say, use your best judgement and comply with state and local standards (as well as common sense).

Be safe out there people!

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