January is usually the recovery from all of the family, food and good cheer you experienced in December, but sometimes it can also mean cold weather, power outages, and left up, or tossed in the back yard, dried out Christmas trees!

In some cases these can be extreme, but I would love to help you become prepared for these types of events so that they don’t catch you off guard if they do occur in your life.

Let’s start with cold weather preparedness tips.  When teaching people about preparedness I always ask who could survive in their car for 24 hours in 30 degree weather without their car running.  I also ask if they, their family and their pets could survive in their home for three days without power and water.

If your answer is no for either of these scenarios, I urge you to get that car and home preparedness kit together!

If you are unsure of your answer, I urge you to try it.  Try to not use power or water for a full weekend and see what happens!

If your answer is yes, then this blog post will most likely be a great refresher for you!

Let’s start with your car kit.

It is important to have the following.  We also suggest customizing it for your needs:

  • Water
  • Flashlights and/or headlamps
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Blankets (wool if available)
  • Emergency blanket
  • Hand warmers
  • Warm clothes including boots, gloves, hats and scarves
  • Fire starters
  • Small snow shovel and ice scraper
  • Flares to signal that you need help
  • First aid kit
  • Phone charger

Please make sure you have a full tank of gas.  Once it gets down to half a tank…fill it up!  This way if you need to start your car for warmth, you will be able to for a longer amount of time.

Now let’s talk home kit.

A home kit should consist of all of the above car kit items.  Place the majority of your home kit in a bucket with a handle and a lid.  Ask local restaurants if they sell their old pickle buckets, or the large home improvement shops also sell buckets.  Using buckets for your home kits are beneficial in case you need to utilize it for a toilet.  Remember you may not have running water, and that includes not being able to flush the toilet.  Also, if you are forced to evacuate your home, it’s easy to grab your home kit and go.

Other items to include in your home kit would be:

  • A small propane stove for cooking your freeze-dried meals
  • Candles
  • Games, coloring books, cards or other activities for you and your family to occupy your time
  • Phone charger (Use your cell phone only in an emergency, and if the power is out and you need to charge your phone, use your vehicle (another reason to always have a full tank of gas))

Safety tips:

One hazard I seem to always see on the news every winter is multiple people dying in their homes each year because they use their propane barbeque or their gas stove to heat their house.  This could result in carbon monoxide poisoning and could lead to death.   One way to keep warm in your power-less house would be to use hand and feet warmers.  I like to have at least a box or two of these at the house at all times.  They can be life savers!  Utilizing emergency blankets under your normal blankets can also help to keep you from losing too much body heat.  Hats and socks help too!

For power outages, I suggest having contact information in your phone for your local utility companies.  Most power companies have apps, websites or phone numbers that you can call to find out information on when they anticipate power being restored in your area.  This can help you decide if you need to relocate to a family or friends house that has power.   Remember that if you do evacuate your home, take your to-go kit, and remember to always prepare for your pets too!

Finally, you are probably asking yourself why we would bring up the dried-out Christmas tree hazard in this blog.  Truth is that according to the United States Fire Administration there are approximately 210 house fires per year in the United States.  Each year, fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage.  Sadly, Christmas tree-related fires have a higher incident of fatalities than typical house fires according to the NFPA report.

Remember before, during and after Christmas to keep your real tree hydrated, check the lights on your real and artificial Christmas trees and make sure not to have candles too close to flammable items.

I hope that this information has been useful.  The staff here at Strategic Emergency Education would like to wish you and yours a very safe, and happy 2020!


*Photo by Franz Roos on Unsplash