Are You Ready for a Snowstorm?

By Lina Younes

Luckily meteorologists in the Washington, DC metro area are not forecasting a major snowstorm in the near future. Nonetheless, as survivors of Snowgeddon 2010, my family and I are beginning to discuss preparations for the next major North American blizzard. We’re not all on the same page, though. While my youngest is praying for another major snow storm so that she can stay home and go sledding, my husband and I are debating the pro’s and con’s of investing in a snow blower and/or generator.

During the first day of Snowgeddon 2010, we were without electricity for 15 hours.  Energy Star windows kept the house comfortable for nearly 12 hours. When it started to get cold, we lit a fire and had great family time around the fireplace. While a cozy fireplace is still an option, we have to make sure that we burn firewood wisely.  Smoke produces a combination of gases and fine particles from burning wood. If you don’t use your wood-burning appliance properly, you can expose your family to serious health effects,
especially if they suffer from heart or respiratory diseases.

Personally, I am very concerned about the use of generators around the home. These gasoline-powered appliances can produce deadly concentrations of carbon monoxide in indoor air. Even though I know we have to operate generators outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, the mere thought of the nearby exhaust scares me. Although we have a carbon monoxide detector, don’t want to have my family anywhere near that exhaust.

Now the other thing we’re also debating is the issue of the snow blower. It was not fun shoveling those tons of snow and we have the “battle scars” to prove it. Furthermore, gas-operated equipment like snowblowers and generators are also sources of air pollution, something we should all try to prevent. The only thing that is making me consider investing in this high ticket item is the probability that if we buy it, it won’t snow this year. We shall see. Are you preparing for snowgeddon 2011?

More about snow and ice

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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