Though considered part of the South, the state of Virginia – especially the area around Richmond and the Hampton Roads area – see snow every winter and freezing rain or sleet on a fairly regular basis. So, getting “snowed in” is a distinct possibility. Here are a few suggestions for what to keep on hand in case of this eventuality:
Food & Water – Three days’ worth should suffice although the Richmond area has seen storms that have lasted longer than a week. While the snow itself may not offer a significant danger to those in their homes, travel is often dangerous as most local drivers are not really prepared for the conditions. Simply put, it is best to stay home, if possible, until road conditions improve.
Cell Phone – Communication is key, especially if an emergency should arise. Cell phones fill this need admirably. Also, be sure to fully charge any and all batteries before the storm hits because the electrical grid is often the first thing to go in a snowstorm.
Candles – This item is doubly beneficial as it provides both light and heat. They are also portable – if somewhat dangerous – so don’t trust them to the hands of your youngest family members. Also do not spread them out all over a room. Keep them grouped together. You get the same benefits of heat and light with less overall danger of starting a fire.
Fire starter – We are not looking to rough it here or to prove out survival skills so skip the flint and tinderbox. Instead, buy one of those gadgets with the long stem that is used for lighting outdoor grills. They are affordable, last forever and are incredibly dependable under the worst of conditions.
Flashlight – A standard tool in any emergency, the key is to keep it in operating condition and in a convenient spot. Experts recommend that you have an “everyday” flashlight that you pull out when you need in ordinary circumstances and an “emergency” one that is not touched at all until really needed.
Batteries – Similarly, a good supply of various batteries that are not used during the normal course of events is recommended. Have plenty for the flashlight but also include some smaller ones for handheld game devices and other entertainment options.
Hand Crank Radio – In a real, wide-ranging emergency, a radio may be your only access to current news and information. Hand-cranked ones are best as there is no danger that you will run out of power, no matter how long the emergency lasts. Plus, you can always get a little music to help pass the time.
First Aid Kit – While you will undoubtedly try to remain cautious in a snowstorm situation, small emergencies can easily crop up. With little light, it is easy for someone to unexpectedly bump into something causing a bruise or for them to cut or scratch themselves on sharp edges. At a minimum, your first aid kit should include bandages, an antiseptic spray, burn ointment and heat packs.
Multi-Purpose Tool – A single multi-purpose tool kept in a convenient drawer will keep you from having to rummage around in an unlit garage looking for a screwdriver or pliers. This tool can do everything from open a bottle of pop to bending a piece of metal. Who knows what you will need it for? Just have it.
Camp Stove – If possible, it is an excellent idea to have an alternate cooking device to your regular stove. This will allow you to melt snow for water and cook food if your electric power or natural gas supply is cut off. Remember to lay in some fuel for you camp stove whether it is just firewood or some of those small butane tanks.