After last winter, I think most of us here in the Northeast think of ourselves as fairly hardy sorts. Heck, after some of the adventurous weather we had this summer, I think we’ve beginning to feel a bit battle-scarred! Still, when I read in the New York Times last week about the “stay bag” that we should have for the winter storms that were to come, I got a sinking feeling and thought “I am NOT ready for this again.”
Mind you, I think that very same morning I had pointed out a squirrel’s nest in a tree to my neighbor and walking partner and said that it was lower than last year so that meant, I thought, that we were in for a warmer winter. Now one squirrel’s nest does not a forecast make but I’ll be looking carefully for other squirrels’ nests to confirm this–or not. The squirrels got it right last year; the Farmers Almanac did not.
For the record, this year the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting wetter and milder for the winter which could mean just about anything. Accuweather, which came out with its predictions on Tuesday, is predicting a milder winter but still some major storms. Both sources seem to concentrate the majority of the snow in interior New England and the skiing regions–so the skiers should again be happy this winter. I’m still seeking out a few more squirrels’ nests before I decide what I think. I’ll post my forecast here around the first of December or so.
But back to the “stay bag.” According to Bob Tedeschi, who writes a column called “The Pragmatist” for the New York Times, your stay bag should include ways to stay warm and to provide light–something those of us with fireplaces can forego. (Although I’ll still go with a few battery-powered lanterns, thanks). For the rest of you, he suggests a portable propane powered heater–something that must be run with a window cracked to avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning, but which is safer than the kerosene heaters of old.
Then there are the ways to eat. I’m not above using the fireplace to cook but he suggests a propane stove, and camping food from a camping store like REI. I’m not sure why one has to go that route when simple soups and things could be prepared the same way but perhaps I fill up faster on simpler fare.
He also has one brilliant suggestion if there is enough warning: fill every reusable water bottle you have (and let’s face it, in the days of sports drinks, who doesn’t have too many of those adult sippy bottles around?) freeze them and stash them in your fridge. It will help keep it colder than it normally would for the 4-24 period that they tell you it stays cold for in a blackout and you can open and close it with abandon (so he says).
I say that trick is worth a shot. The other trick I learned during Hurricane Irene is to photograph the contents of the fridge and freezer before the power goes out. There was assistance available for lost food if you could prove what you had. Who could prove that? I’m taking photos next time! I photo’d a lot of stuff but the inside of my fridge and freezer weren’t on the list.
He goes into some other details such as wrapping your pipes with insulation tape (ugh) and little details about leaving faucets open with the water dripping during the actual blackout–but I’m not thinking about that. I’m just hoping we never have to go through that–or at least not for a long, long time!