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has been deprived of the best part of his education."
-Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Winter Weather Preparedness
Nature is beautiful, nurturing, and strong. Weather is so variable that we sometimes neglect to consider changes in weather patterns, and when they catch us unprepared, they can quickly turn into disasters.
Part of being a naturalist is to be aware of natural power -- whether the gentle change from winter to spring -- or it's side effects such as spring rains and spring thaws that can cause flooding. It's important to understand that seasonal cycles such as thawing and flooding are natural -- and they cause us problems only when we ignore their natural behaviors. If we build in a flood plain, we will get flooded.
That sounds simple, and I don't mean to make it that simple, but I've lived through massive floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and within easy driving distance of wildfires. The awesome power of nature continually gives me pause.
Here are some things you can do to protect yourself from these natural shifts and changes that cause human communities problems. Be prepared. Walk lightly on the land. Respect the power of raw natural processes.
CALIFORNIA NATURAL DISASTERS
Preparation & Prevention information is available from FEMA at:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging everyone
to take preventive measures to ensure their safety and reduce the risk
of winter storm damage to property.
Preparing Your Family
- Assemble a disaster supply kit. Store drinking water,
canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, first aid kit, battery-powered
radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily,
even in the dark. Also include winter specific items such as rock salt,
sand and other snow removal equipment.
- Prepare for the possibility that you will need to
stay in your home for several days after a winter storm. Make sure that
you have sufficient heating fuel as well as emergency heating equipment
in case electricity is cut off.
- House fires pose an additional risk, as more people
turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety
precautions. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone
in your house knows how to use them.
- Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly
or disabled friends and neighbors or employees.
- Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to
avoid a build-up of toxic fumes and always refuel outside. Keep all
heaters at least three feet from flammable objects.
- Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight,
warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments
should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and
sturdy, waterproof boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your
lungs from extremely cold air.
Preparing Your Car
- Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair.
Winterize your car by checking your car battery, ignition system, thermostat,
lights, flashers, exhaust, heater, brakes, defroster and tires. Ensure
that your car has adequate antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and oil
and check regularly throughout the season.
- Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes
a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra
batteries, water, snack food, extra hats and mittens, blanket, tow chain
or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares and fluorescent
- If traveling by car during a winter weather advisory
or winter storm watch, do so in daylight, don't travel alone, keep others
informed of your schedule and route, and stay on main roads. Avoid driving
during a winter storm warning or blizzard warning.
Preparing Your Home
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic,
insulate walls and attics, and apply caulk and weather-stripping to
doors and windows.
- Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure
that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment.
Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that
could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic
and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability
of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation
of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
- Remove ice and snow from tree limbs, roof and other
structures after the storm passes.
Winter Weather Terms
- Know the terms used by weather forecasters so that
you clearly understand the risk to your family and your community, including:
- Winter weather advisory - Winter weather conditions
are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous,
especially to motorists;
- Winter storm watch - Be alert, a storm is possible;
- Winter storm warning - Take action, the storm
is occurring or will soon occur in the area;
- Blizzard warning - Snow and strong winds combined
will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and
life-threatening wind chill - seek refuge immediately;
- Frost/freeze warning - Below freezing temperatures
Winter storms accounted for five national major disasters and eight emergency
declarations in 2001 as well as five major disasters and one emergency
declaration to date in 2002. The severe weather damaged homes and businesses
from New York to Oregon.
For more articles about NATURE EXPLORATION
Leaves of 3 Leave them be
Think Global - Act Local!
Certify Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder
Favorite Quotes about Nature
Bio-Diesel solving energy shortages