Don’t Panic. Be Prepared.

by Lina Younes

I don’t know why reports of severe weather conditions can send everyone into a panic. At the first mention of inclement weather, we often make a mad dash to the grocery store or hardware store to stock up on supplies.  The frenzy can be avoided by being prepared in advance of severe weather conditions.

When I was growing up in Puerto Rico, those frantic moments were set off by the mention of an impending hurricane.  While living in the Washington, DC area, I’ve noticed similar reactions whenever snow is in the forecast.  And this weekend seems to be no different. Along the Northeast and Southeastern coastline, we expect some sort of precipitation, be it a heavy snowfall or freezing rain.

Snowy WeatherSo, what can we do to be prepared for the storm? Here are some suggestions:

  • Fill up your car’s gas tank before the storm hits.
  • In your emergency supplies kit, stock up on canned food, bottled water, a manual can opener, flashlights and other supplies like batteries.
  • Have extra charged batteries for your cell phone. Even consider buying a solar-powered cell phone battery.
  • Have cash on hand.
  • Have books, games, and activities for children.
  • Have a battery-powered portable radio. It will help you to be connected with the outside world if you’re snowed in.
  • Have emergency phone numbers on hand to report power outages with your local utility company.
  • Here’s some useful information in the event that you need emergency disinfection of drinking water in your community after the storm.

Also, if you’re using the chimney for the first time this winter, make sure that you’re using it correctly to reduce smoke inside and outside your home.  Here are some useful BurnWise best practices. Personally, I love to gather around a cozy fire, but it’s important to keep everyone safe and smoke free.

Furthermore, if we get the severe snowstorm they are forecasting, it’s likely that some areas will be without power.  If you have a generator, use it safely.  Generator exhaust is toxic! Make sure that you place your generator well away from doors, windows and vents.  Carbon monoxide is deadly.  It’s known as the silent killer. Keep your family safe.

So, are you prepared for the big storm of 2016? Stay safe.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison in EPA’s Office of Web Communications. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several federal and state government agencies over the years.


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