Surviving the Polar Vortex

When severe cold weather is predicted, what should you do to keep your home and family safe?

For those of us who live in the Midwest and the north, winter brings the real possibility of severely cold weather. Just when we were hoping that winter 2014-15 would usher in milder weather compared to 2013-14, we get news from meteorologists that another Polar Vortex on the way. If you or a family member have a chronic health condition it’s even more important to plan ahead.

Here are some tips from Michigan State University Extension to ensure that you and your family will survive severe winter weather:

  1. Plan a week or two of meals that can be prepared without using heat or refrigeration. Stock up on canned meat and fish, vegetables and fruit. Buy an extra can opener and keep it with these foods. Stock up on shelf stable milk products and dry foods such as cereal, crackers and nuts. If you need to eat a special diet, include these foods in your meal plan and grocery list.
  2. Stock up on paper plates, napkins, paper towels and disposable silverware. Watch for sales when these items are priced lower and buy in quantity.
  3. Store drinkable water. You can buy water in gallon containers or save a supply in food safe containers.
  4. It’s also a good idea to keep some water available to use for cleaning and bathing.
  5. Don’t forget pets! If you have a pet, stock up on the food they need. If it’s canned food without a flip top opener, keep a separate can opener to open the pet foods.
  6. Keep a supply of cleansing towelettes that can be used for quick clean-ups should you lose power.
  7. Check medications of all family members. Never let your prescribed medications get below one week before renewing. If you have diabetes and require insulin, check with your doctor and pharmacy to see if you can keep a back-up supply should you not be able to travel.
  8. Check your flashlights to see if they work and replace batteries, also keeping a supply of batteries close at hand.

You should date all of your food and water containers and rotate them into your regular meals when they reach their due date. And of course, remember to replace these items on your next grocery trip.

Don’t let the cold winter find you unprepared! Make a list of menus and grocery items needed, as well as the items mentioned and plan to purchase them as you have the money in your budget. But don’t wait – we’ve already been hit with earlier than normal severe weather. Make this winter safe for you and your family!

For more information about healthy eating, planning meals and other subjects of interest contact your local MSU Extension office.

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