By Charlotte Lane, Public Service Commission 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. The state has the third-highest number of seniors of the 50 states. Lane doesn’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.
The writer is stepping out from her normal duties as chairman of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia. She is suggesting what a person should have handy in case a winter storm strikes.
If power is lost, a person will 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. One 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 a person has babies or toddlers, consider their special needs. And, of course, stockpile lots and lots of water.
Always, but especially when a person hears 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 one has paper products, plates, bowls, plastic forks and spoons, plastic bags and containers. Get them now as one will need them.
Think about one’s pets. They need essentials and will be boarded up with a person. Keep some treats on hand for one’s buddies. They will be stressed by the storm, too.
Virtually every list Lane has 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 the gas tank and keep it topped off if a storm is coming. The writer hopes one will never need to use her emergency check list. But in case one does, it’s always helpful to have the supplies ready to go.