Island Senior: Surviving Winter Storms
Island Senior is a regular column on the San Juan Update written by Peggy Sue McRae…
We islanders enjoy what is normally a mild climate but every once in a while we get blasted with a winter storm. If you’ve lived here for a while you have stories to tell of power outages, frozen pipes, even hurricane force winds blowing out docks and knocking over trees. Rarely is it that dramatic, but all the more reason to be prepared.
The San Juan County/Town of Friday Harbor Department of Emergency Management website has a wealth of information. As a first step they recommend being prepared to stay home, possibly without power, for two weeks. That means having food, drinking water, batteries and books. This is not just good advice for storms but recommended for all kinds of possible emergencies including earthquakes.
When anticipating a windstorm, before it happens anchor down items that could blow away. Fill your gas tank. If you use life-sustaining equipment register it with your utility. If you have a landline phone this is when you will appreciate it and it is one reason I have kept mine. They work when the power is out.
During a high windstorm avoid driving if at all possible, stay away from power lines. If the power goes out disconnect heaters and appliances and unplug your computer to protect it from a power surge when the power comes back on. Conserve water and be very careful with candles and kerosene.
When the weather dips below freezing drip your faucets and leave cupboards below fixtures open to give some household warmth to your pipes. If your pipes do freeze know how to shut off your water in case when they thaw out they are damaged. If using a fuel fed heater be sure you have good ventilation.
A stack of tortillas, a block of cheese, and a few cans of beans are my go to emergency food. It is easy to make a satisfying meal out of these ingredients on top of a wood stove. Fruits and nuts, trail mix or other foods that require no cooking are also handy to have around. I used to wonder what to do with all the Yankee style candles in jars that I often get for Christmas. I’ve discovered they are the best thing for a power outage, heavy enough not to tip over easily and with the safety feature of being contained within the glass.
For more information check out these links.
Link to: OPALCO Winter Storm Checklist
Link to: OPALCO Generator Safety Tips