5 Steps to Prepare for February Storms

Before March can come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, we have to suffer through February snow storms. Typically the most snow-intense month of the year, February storms can be deep and slow everything down to a crawl. Worst of all, after all the fun of the holidays, only Valentine's Day breaks up the monotony, smack dab in the middle of the month.

Prepare for the worst winter has to offer with the following five steps.

1. Stock Up on the Basics: Television news programs love to show empty store shelves when big storms hit. Don't get stuck hunting down basic items at the last minute. Make sure you have the following items where you can easily get your hands on them: A shovel, wood matches, a battery operated radio and extra batteries, candles and/or a lantern, a week's worth of prescription medications, working flashlights, enough non-perishable food for several days, a manual can opener, blankets and warm clothing, camp stove or barbecue grill.

Fill enough empty milk containers with water to supply drinking and basic-cleaning water for several days. If you don't have a land-line phone, some models of self-powered radios and flashlights will also recharge your cell phones.

2. Winterize Your Home: Heavy-duty winterization should have been performed last fall. There are still several steps to prepare for truly heavy storms, however, including insulating pipes and pruning tree branches that have grown over any buildings. Don't forget to let faucets to drip a bit when frigid temperatures approach to keep them from freezing.

3. Plan for Defrosting: Long power outages mean refrigerated and frozen foods will go bad. The one advantage of nasty temperatures, however, is that the whole outdoors becomes a freezer. Place refrigerated items in an enclosed porch or other cold area and freezer items outdoors in a cooler or other animal-proof container. Eat perishable foods first, leaving canned goods for more lengthy outages.

4. Establish a Family Communications Plan: Your family may not be together when a storm hits suddenly, so it's important to plan in advance how you'll contact one another, how you'll get back together; and what you'll do in different situations.

5. Enjoy Yourselves: Winter storms, particularly with power outages, are a good time to reconnect without the distractions of TV, video games and computers. Stockpile board games, playing cards, art supplies or books of ghost stories so you can ride out the storm in style.

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