The low temperature range and high humidity during most icy weather make a great recipe for hypothermia. Consider alternate heat sources for your home in the event of a power failure. If you already have a wood stove or fireplace, wood heat is a great solution. Just keep some firewood indoors if an ice storm is predicted. This will keep you from breaking your legs on a firewood run outside. Small non-electric heaters are another good option. Kerosene heaters can run without electricity and may heat a large room or two adjoining rooms. They are smelly, though, and fuel spills are common when refilling the reservoir. Propane heaters that are designed for indoor operation are another option, although these will only heat one small room and all those small propane canisters can become expensive.
If the ice knocks out your power, the water may follow soon if you’re on a municipal supply. If you’re on your own well, then the flowing water is gone immediately with a power failure. Store ample drinking water supplies for your family, in a place that is cool but not prone to freezing. One gallon jugs are easy to carry and their size can help with water rationing. 5 gallon water cooler jugs are nice for volume, but hard to pour. Allot 3 gallons per family member, to get you through the average emergency. And it’s wise to have disinfection options to resupply from other water sources, should you run out. And whether you have well water or municipal supply, don’t forget about your water heater. This big tank in your home will have dozens of gallons of drinkable water inside!
Food and Cooking
Stock up on some foods that you know your family will like, and pay special attention to foods that are ready to eat. MRE’s are good, but they are expensive and may be rejected by picky eaters. Easy to cook foods can be manageable, if you plan ahead with a cooking source. Sterno cans, alcohol stoves and MRE heaters will heat up some foods for you, without any ventilation issues. Other types of camping stoves can serve your needs with proper ventilation. But double tasking is always the best approach. If your wood stove is going, cook on top of that. If your fire place is roaring, safely suspend a pot over the flames. If none of these are an option for you, eat cold foods. Peanut butter and crackers, canned meats and crackers, cold sandwiches, and all kinds of snacks can be eaten without the bother or dangers of cooking. Don’t forget to have extra food for your pets, they’ll get hungry too.
First Aid Supplies
Injuries and emergencies seem to go hand in hand. This makes first aid gear an important part of your self-reliance strategies. Buy a pre-stocked kit from the store, if you don’t have a kit right now. Then, beef it up by adding your most commonly used medications, and additional supplies for extended wound management, such as extra gauze, dressings and antibiotic ointments.
While a room full of candles may sound like a warm relaxing place, it’s a serious fire hazard. The last thing you need during an ice storm is your house on fire and the firefighters unable to drive on the ice encrusted roads. Buy several different items that provide battery powered light for your home, and keep the candles to a minimum. Choose LED bulb lights, as these will give you plenty of light and a very long battery life. Keep extra batteries on hand, in case you get caught in the dark longer than expected.
Unless you’re driving a salt truck backwards, you’re probably not going anywhere during a really bad ice storm. Weather like this can make travel almost impossible, and you’d better pray that nobody in your family needs a trip to the ER. Ice walking crampons, or their smaller cousin Yaktrax, can allow you to walk with more safety on ice, which may be your only mode of transport. Even the best tires or snow chains are worthless on thick, slippery ice. Walking to salted main roads, and flagging down a ride, might be your only ticket out of there, should you have to leave your home.
And if that’s not enough, you can:
Follow Tim on Twitter @timmacwelch
Take one of his survival classes at www.advancedsurvivaltraining.com
and check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles at Outdoor Life Magazine’s survival site, The Survivalist.