Although March has arrived, winter is stepping up to let us know it's far from over just yet. A wicked Wednesday is on its way as a second nor'easter makes its way to the area.
Substantial winds and a heavy-weighted snow — forecasted to average 7 to 10 inches in total — are expected to bring climatic turmoil to the region. With as many as 20,000 people still stuck without power from last Friday's bout of bad weather, it's not particularly welcoming news.
Fortunately, we've been given a little more forewarning this time around. If you're one of the lucky ones with electricity still running strong, now's the time to gear up. Another round of outages is likely to sweep the area, meaning you could get hit next.
Wednesday's winds are predicted to be comparably calmer than those from nor'easter number one. Yet, the aftermath of the first storm's soaking snowy mix, following one of the wettest Februarys on record, has left tree roots across the region more vulnerable than ever.
Tomorrow's snow is expected to be heavy. Water-logged flakes will blanket the area, weighing down, and potentially uprooting, susceptible trees. Once a tree falls, it can easily take your home's power source with it.
Want to prepare for the worst case scenario? Follow the tips below to ensure you're ready for whatever winter throws you.
Turn up your heat now
Fortunately, this storm has brought more forewarning than the last, giving you time to heat up the house in the event the electricity shuts off. The warmer your indoor environment is to start, the longer it will take to cool.
Well-water homeowners: Fill your bathtub with water
If you have a well with an electric pump, the water will shut off as soon as your pump shuts off. Give that tub in your bathroom a good scrub-down and then fill it on up. The water can be used for cleaning and other sanitation purposes.
Fill up or purchase water bottles
If the power is out for long enough, even those with city- or county-supplied water can be affected. Keep a supply of drinking water on-hand for staying hydrated throughout the duration of the outage.
Check flashlights and your battery supply
Without a light source, it becomes challenging to do almost anything once the sun goes down. Make sure you have some backup lanterns or flashlights ready to go, with extra batteries to keep them running. Candles can be nice, too, for creating a wintry ambiance that makes the scenario slightly more pleasant.
Prevent frozen pipes by wrapping them with newspapers
Once the house gets cold, the pipes within your home will get cold, too. Take precautions to keep them from bursting by insulating them with a layer of newspaper or rags, wrapped in plastic to keep the moisture out. (Don't have newspapers lying around? There's an easy solution to that.)
Drape blankets across windows and doors
When in the midst of a cold crisis, blankets work far better than most curtains for keeping out chilly temps seeping through the cracks of windows and doors. Gather your thickest blankets, and hang them from wherever you can get them to stay up — i.e., curtain rods, shoved in the top of a doorway, etc.
Sign up for mobile alerts
PECO customers can sign up for text message alerts surrounding power outages, restoration times, and other important related information. The 24/7 notification system will keep you in the loop on what's going on if your power goes out. For those residing in Montgomery County, ReadyMontco is another mobile alert option. The messaging system provides notifications (which can come via text message, email address, or phone call) about severe weather, emergencies, crime alerts and disasters. Other areas, including Delaware County, have similar notification systems. Consider doing a Google search of "text message alerts for [your county]" to see if a system is in place in your area.
Cook up your meats, cheeses, and other perishable foods tonight
A pending power outage brings the perfect excuse to celebrate with a steak night. When the fridge goes out, perishable items like chicken, eggs, milk, and mayo will be the first to go bad. Cook up a feast and utilize as many of those ingredients as you can tonight.
Set your freezer and fridge to their highest settings
If your power goes out and you don't open the refrigerator or freezer door, food can stay cold in a well-packed refrigerator for up to 24 hour, and in a full freezer for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-packed). The colder your refrigerator is to start, the better off you are.
Freeze a supply of ice packs and pull out the cooler if you have medicine that requires refrigeration
In the short term, you'll be able to create your own refrigerator with the help of a cooler to use for things that must stay cold. However, for medicines, be sure to first check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.
Have a supply of non-perishable foods onhand
If you own an electric stove, you won't be able to cook up a meal if your power goes out. Make sure you have other options available, such as fruit, bread, peanut butter, canned beans, and other easy-to-assemble meal ideas that don't require heat.
Charge all devices and any back-up chargers you might own
If you have a portable cell phone charger, now's the time to pull it out and make sure it's charged. Be sure to also keep your cell phone plugged in while the power's still on, and charge any other devices you might wish to use, like iPads and laptops.
Give your car a full tank of gas
Most gas stations have backup generators but given that the stations rely on electricity to power the pumps, you can never be too prepared. Plus, as long as the streets aren't too snowy, camping out at a friend or family's place where the power is still on can be a smart move. Be sure you're ready to go by fueling up the car in advance.
Get the board games ready to go
Power outages are often the perfect time for a little friend or family bonding. With the TV and computer shut off, a deck of cards or a classic board game can sweep in to provide hours of fun.