In a previous post we discussed the benefits and importance of winterizing your home (and how to do so), and we also offered a Home Care Checklist for Fall/Winter however, it is also important to make sure that you're always prepared for winter weather, and the hazards it presents, in both your home and car.
A local 'joke' when a winter weather alert is announced is to make sure you're stocked up on bread, milk, and eggs as these are the items commonly missing from shelves prior to a winter storm.
Though, while we all love french toast (assuming this is the meal everyone makes during winter storms with those ingredients), we feel there are many other items more important during winter weather. Even though it has been 4 years since Northwest Arkansas received more than 1" of snow, you never know when mother nature will decide 'it's time' and as such, it's a good idea to have a winter preparedness kit in both your home and vehicle each winter- 'just in case'.
On The Road:
Being on the road in NWA during winter weather involves navigating through ice, snow and hazardous roads. With severe winter weather being a sporadic and uncommon event in this area, this also means being around drivers who may be unaccustomed to driving in these elements. Road conditions can also change in an instant. The roads/weather might be fine when you go into work or a store- but that does not mean they won't change before you get on the road again. Some tips for preparing your vehicle for winter weather are:
- Check antifreeze - antifreeze keeps your engine cool in the summer and keeps it from freezing up in the winter.
- Remember to keep the gas tank full to near full - this will help avoid freezing water in the fuel line and it's also important incase you get stranded or are in your car longer than anticipated due to traffic conditions.
- Check tires and spare tire for proper inflation - For every 10 degrees of temperature drop, tires will drop 1-2 pounds of pressure. It is important to keep your tires within the recommended PSI to maintain traction, handling and durability. For information on finding your tires' PSI - Click Here.
Consider a winter preparedness kit in the trunk containing the following emergency supplies to handle winter hazards:
- Bag of sand, road salt or non-clumping cat litter. The bag's extra weight will help with extra traction, and the contents of either can be spread under slipping tires to help if you get stuck.
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Small shovel (to dig snow away from wheels, or scatter sand on roadway)
- Flares or reflective triangle to warn other motorists if you break down
- Blanket - If you break down, and are unable to use the vehicle to keep warm- a blanket will be a relief to have.
- Flashlight and batteries
- Gallon jug of drinking water or case of bottled water
- First aid kit
- Emergency food like protein/snack bars.
**When you're leaving your home during (or under the threat of) winter weather, it's always smart to dress in coat, hat, gloves, and weather appropriate clothing.
Power outages, being snowed/iced in, etc are perfect examples of why it's important to be prepared at home, as well. Household emergency supplies should include enough food, water and supplies to last four days without power or help.
Check your home emergency kit against this basic checklist:
- Snow shovel
- De-icing compound - (such as salt) for stairs/walkways/patios
- Food that doesn't require heating or refrigeration (skip the bread, milk and eggs and instead obtain non-perishables such as canned meats, soups and stews, cereal, and protein/energy bars)
- Manual can opener
- Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils
- 1 gallon of water per person per day (allow enough for four days)
- Flashlights and batteries
- Battery-powered radio
- Battery-powered clock
- Fully charged cellular phone with extra battery pack/power bank
- First-aid kit
- Four-day supply of prescription medicines
- Blanket and cold-weather clothing for each family member
- Pet food and additional water for household pets
Severe winter weather may be few and far between in Northwest Arkansas, but the winter's of 2009, 2010, and 2013 have taught us that severe winter weather is NOT unheard of.
January 26-28, 2009
January 2009 brought with it a major snow/ice storm that accumulated over 3-4 inches of ice/snow and ultimately claimed 18 lives in Arkansas from a combination of traffic accidents, hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning.
March 21st, 2010
Just days before this 'freak snow storm' that dumped over 12inches of snow throughout the NWA area- temperatures were in the 60's and 70's!
December 5-6, 2013
As this system rolled in, it quickly dropped temperatures from the 50s-60s to below freezing in a matter of hours before dumping over 6" of snow and 0.08" of ice across the area.
It's common to be disappointed in the area when the meteorologists call for snow and then mother nature shifts and the snow passes over our area and falls elsewhere. However, it is always 'better to be safe than sorry'. Previous winters have shown us how quickly winter weather can set in, and while our meteorologists work hard to predict the weather for us- mother nature is unpredictable.
Take heed when the threat of winter weather is upon us, and always be prepared.