Preparing for a storm can be tough because no one knows exactly what to expect. With regard to the impending Boston blizzard, here are a few ideas to help you stay on top of changing conditions.
Basics matter. In an emergency, you may be coping with a number of tough conditions, including the snow, poor road conditions, power outages, falling temperatures, frozen pipes or broken water mains and other things that are simply out of your control. But the good news is that a little advance planning can help you cope with these things.
• Make sure you have enough food to last 3-5 days. The stores may be open, but the roads may be closed. Having a stash of the basics (which includes food, water, basic first aid supplies and toilet paper) can help keep you safe and sound indoors.
• Plan to have a power outage. The power doesn’t always go out in a major storm, but ice and snow accumulations on overhead wires can cause localized power problems. Large snowfalls can also hamper repairs. Don’t attempt to clear snow or ice off of your home’s service lines, even if the lines are sagging low enough for you to do so. If the lines are very low to the ground, call your local utility company to report the problem.
Along the same lines, consider making an investment in a generator that is large enough to keep your major systems online. “Major systems” minimally include your heating equipment, water heater, refrigeration equipment, and sump pump. If the generator is large enough, you may also consider adding your cooking or other kitchen appliances to the list.
A safety note about generators: they’re strictly outdoor devices. They burn fuel, emit carbon monoxide and must be vented to the outside. Do not run a generator indoors, even for a short period of time. A qualified electrician can help you connect and disconnect a generator, and show you how to operate the device safely. Stock up on spare batteries and light sources, but exercise caution when using or carrying candles or open flames. Do not attempt to use a gas stove or oven as a heat source.
• Don’t forget your car. Sometimes in an emergency, you have to relocate. Make sure your car has a full gas tank and a full wiper fluid reservoir. Stock the car with blankets, a flashlight, a small shovel and non-perishable food for both people and pets. Prepare a gallon or so of fresh water, but don’t store this in the car, since it will freeze. Have it waiting by the door in case you need to move.
Finally, make sure your cell phone has a full charge, and if you don’t already have one, invest in a 12v charger. That will allow you to plug your cell phone into the convenience outlet (or the cigarette lighter) of your car to power your phone if the battery dies.
If you have to leave your home during the storm and you still have power, make sure your thermostat is set to no lower than 60°F to avoid frozen pipes while you are away.
If you encounter any problems with your home heating equipment or your plumbing, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We offer round-the-clock emergency service throughout the Boston area.