Prepare for Winter Storms

By: Charlotte R. Lane, West Virginia PSC Chairman

Old Man Winter is right around the corner. And while Jack Frost may be a whimsical character, winter storms are a serious reality and a hazard for West Virginians.
Our state has the third-highest number of seniors of the 50 states. I don’t want to cause panic, but predictions show the eastern states can expect below-average temperatures this winter with a good chance of higher-than-average amounts of snow.
Today, I’m going to step out from my normal duties as chairman of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia. I want to suggest what you should have handy in case a winter storm strikes.
If you lose power, you’ll need a good source of high protein to eat. So, keep on hand a collection of energy and fruit bars that don’t need refrigeration. Granola and peanut butter are essentials, too.
And what many don’t think about is to have non-perishable pasteurized milk.
Of course, the old standby is canned goods. You can’t go wrong and they come in an infinite variety. According to the Federal Management Agency, canned nutritional foods, juices and soups are very important for the elderly.
If you have babies or toddlers, consider their special needs. And, of course, stockpile lots and lots of water.
Always, but especially when you hear a storm is coming, keep essential medicines and first aid supplies on hand. Have portable lights, a battery-powered radio, and plenty of batteries to run them.
Make sure you have paper products, plates, bowls, plastic forks and spoons, plastic bags and containers. Get them now. You’ll need them.
Think about your pets. They need essentials and will be boarded up with you. Keep some treats on hand for your buddies. They will be stressed by the storm, too.
Virtually every list I’ve studied recommends creating an emergency kit. This should be portable and kept near an exit.
Critical to this is a three-day supply of water, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, extra batteries, matches in a waterproof container, sanitary items and a whistle. If possible, it should also include clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags.
And again, remember to include pet supplies.
Fill your gas tank and keep it topped off if you hear a storm is coming.
I hope you never need to use my emergency check list. But in case you do, it’s always helpful to have your supplies ready to go.