A few weeks ago, we had a big storm. Roads were terrible. Power was intermittent at best. It was cold. Our friends in town were struggling. They couldn’t imagine how we were managing the conditions.
We handled the storm well because we were prepared.
Canadians are advised to be prepared for 72 hours without services. Many Canadians have no idea what that means or how to prepare for it.
Weather turning bad always means a trip to town for us. Stocking up on the fresh stuff we enjoy. It also means checking power cords for vehicles, fuel for the generator, checking the first aid kit and fresh water supply, and making sure all items that need a charge are fully charged.
Make sure if you have livestock they are prepped with the extras they need — extra bedding, feed and secure water supply. If your barn has a back up generator make sure it is working properly. These back up systems should be tested on a regular basis.
If you use a generator make sure it is well maintained, tested and where you need it for use during a storm. It won’t do you much good in the back of a shed you can’t reach! If you use a PTO generator make sure the tractor is also going to start and is easy to get at.
If you are prepared for a storm you can ride it out. If you have livestock, you will have to consider how long they can be without your normal care. Ensure if you are going out to check on animals that you do so safely.
Don’t stress about the weather. You cannot do a single thing to change it. You can prepare for it. Storms are a part of life in Canada, and while we seem to be having more severe weather our tools for being prepared are also much better every year!
Storms can pass quickly and leave a massive clean up job behind them. After a storm, be patient with service providers and remember rural folks will most often be restored later than our urban counterparts.
Digging out and cleaning up after a storm can have many safety challenges, often more than the actual storm. When shoveling snow or removing fallen trees or debris practice active safety. If you are checking livestock, fences and infrastructure be especially aware of hidden dangers (fallen or contacted power lines, broken but not fallen branches, weakened ladders or doors).
This is the time to be extra vigilant about being safe! If you are still without services emergency crews cannot reach you.
Check on the neighbours. We offer to get supplies for older neighbours or those who are less mobile, especially in the winter. When the storm passes lots of great neighbours go around removing snow, boosting vehicles and checking on folks.
Use social media, if you are still connected, to let your friends and family know you are safe. Facebook has a disaster check in function that allows people to inform their loved ones of their status in a disaster.
The Canadian government has a website: getprepared.gc.ca, but resources like this are no use if you don’t use them. If you’re like a farmer I know whose excuse is, “I’m too busy farming,” you’re putting yourself, your family and farm at huge risk.
Our 72 hours list
Our farm and our home have storm-prepared kits in them. Even once the storm is past, our roads and services won’t be back to “normal” as quickly as those in town, or closer to town.
Technology has given us some great new tools for our kits.
Power packs: These charge electronics and they can boost vehicles. Larger ones can boost a tractor. Their high-capacity batteries can do multiple charges and boosts on a single main charge.
Emergency food: These are not the MRE’s you’ve seen on TV. New high-tech food packs are dense nutrition, last for years and come in 30- to 90-day tubs. Affordable, and they only need water for preparation. Don’t think stores will have food if you can just get there. If any major transportation route is impacted by a storm or disaster stores will quickly run out of food, especially perishables and popular items.
And: Our check also list includes:
- Food, water, medications and animal care supplies;
- Generators and fuel;
- Pump and hose;
- Well-maintained equipment;
- Fire extinguishers;
- Supplementary water supplies for livestock;
- Shelter and feed for animals…
- Supplementary heating…
- Alternative cooking tools (solid fuel stove, propane and wood pellet barbecue);
- Food that does not require freezing or refrigeration;
- Extra medications and first aid kits;
- Animal health kits;
- Leashes and crates;
- Halters and ropes;
- Weather radio; and,
- Emergency power source for phones and other electronics
The most important thing we have is a plan. We practice. We know what to do in a severe summer storm, we know what to do in a deep freeze with no power and we know where to put our livestock in a drifting blizzard. We time each other and we communicate. We also understand that sometimes one of us may be alone to take care of things when the unexpected happens.