Here in Bloomfield Hills, we’re no strangers to a bad winter storm, and no doubt if you’ve been here long you’ve already experienced a blizzard or two. But we’d like to give you some tips to prepare for a blizzard, including one that you probably felt too awkward to ask about…
First of all, here’s a quick checklist of things you should have in your home, all in one location, to weather through the bad weather:
- Non-perishable foods – at least 3 days’ worth. You don’t want to be left stranded without food if your power goes out and everything in your fridge and freezer is ruined. (Although, we do install very handy whole-home standby generators to prevent you from losing power!) Also, have lots and lots of water bottles on hand, because keeping hydrated when your body is cold and your metabolism has increased is extremely important.
- A first-aid kit: including antiseptic, gauze, bandages, etc., in case someone gets hurt while bumbling around in the powerless house or while venturing out; as well as cough and cold medicine, a thermometer, and pain killers in case someone gets sick because of the terrible weather!
- Outerwear made of wool, fur, and down; insulating underwear and socks; and chemical hand warmers that can be placed over gloves or in footwear. However, even though they’re great for preventing frostbite, these chemical hand warmers are not safe to directly touch the skin. Also, since most heat is lost through the head, you’ll want to make sure to wear a hat while you sleep.
Another thing you can do while you sleep in a house without heat is put up a tent in the living room and camp out there as a family. (Although if it’s really that cold, you should camp out in the innermost room possible that usually stays warmer than the rest of the house, and add blankets over the door and on the floor to prevent heat from escaping.) Not only will the tent trap heat, but it will be a fun distraction for your kids. Bring the sleeping bags, too!
So now, we have just about everything we could need to endure the inconvenient and potentially dangerous situation of being in a home without power or heat…Except…
What do you do about going to the bathroom? If you don’t have power, you may not be able to flush. If you live in the city, flushing the toilet may not be a problem, because the water is still flowing through your pipes from the larger system, by gravity. But if you have a septic system, then you are relying on a tank that uses electricity to get water from a well. If you’re used to country living, you probably already know all that and also about the “one-flush rule,” where once the power goes out, you have one flush left!!
But let’s say you’ve prepared ahead of the storm and you’ve filled your bathtubs, rain barrels, buckets etc. with water. All you have to do is lift the lid on your toilet tank and make sure to replace the water used from the previous flush. Then, it should work perfectly fine, and flush way more than once.
We hope that the issue of how to flush a toilet is the biggest issue you have to deal with the next time you’re trapped in a winter storm. (In fact, of course, we hope you’re never trapped in a winter storm to begin with!)
But let’s say the power doesn’t go out at all.
In that case, your HVAC system should be able to heat your home perfectly fine… unless the system fails. To prevent a system malfunction and give it the best fighting chance this winter, you should really get a furnace tune-up!