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Winter Storm Preparedness
Winter storms, blizzards and the occasional loss of electricity associated with them, can catch even the most seasoned South Dakotan by surprise.
 
Before an emergency leaves your home, ranch or farmstead without electricity, have a plan in place, said John Keimig, SDSU Extension 4-H Associate.
 
When crafting a plan, Keimig encouraged folks to consider devising a plan for the following three stages:
  • Stage one, preparation (before the storm);
  • Stage two, survival (during the storm) and
  • Stage three, recovery (after the storm). 
Stage 1: Preparation
 
During the preparation stage, create an emergency kit and have your children help gather supplies to build your kit.
 
"Engaging your children in the process, allows them to feel empowered and may help bring a sense of relief knowing there is a plan in place," Keimig said.
 
If you have access to a generator, use an extension cord that allows the generator to remain at least 20 feet from any door, window or vent. Also, make plans for how you can avoid driving.
 
Emergency Supply List: 
  • Food & Water: 3-Day supply of non-perishable food (dried fruit, canned tuna, peanut butter, etc.). At least a gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and hygiene.
  • Utensils: Can opener, paper plates, plastic cups & utensils, paper towels.
  • First Aid Kit: Prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter medications) and medical supplies.
  • Sanitation Supplies: Supplies for sanitation, such as hand sanitizer, towelettes, paper products, diapers, and plastic bags (for use when water resources are limited).
  • Blankets & Clothing: Extra clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags.
  • Electronics: Flashlight with extra batteries. Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio with extra batteries.
Stage 2: Survival
 
During the survival stage, stay inside and avoid driving as much as possible.
 
If the power goes out, here are a few easy steps to take:
  • Close off unused rooms to consolidate and conserve heat.
  • Dress in layers to keep warm during power loss.
  • Bring pets inside that do not have adequate shelter.
  • Limit time outdoors. And, if you are outside, dress for the weather and avoid frostbite.
  • Do not use the stove to try to heat your home.
  • Never use generators, outdoor heating or cooking equipment to try to heat your home. These use oxygen and can give off harmful carbon monoxide.
  • If you must drive, keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Visit this link for information on what you should pack in this kit.
Stage 3: Recovery
 
If the power is out for very long, many communities will set up warming shelters. Consider going to them. If you do not have enough supplies, consider going to the community shelter. If you must go outside, dress warm and avoid prolonged exposure to cold and wind to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
 
When the power comes back on there will be other things to consider, such as your refrigerator and freezer contents. Visit this link to learn more about food safety after electricity outages.