As such, I figured I'd add some advice about surviving the severe weather we can see around here. This is for those folks “from away” thinking about moving to the country and living in a little town. And just to make things clear, by “from away” I mean not just people living in the big cities, but those also living in the more heavily settled suburbs surrounding the big cities.
Not that folks living in cities or more heavily populated suburban areas don’t experience severe weather. The differences are how folks out in the “countryside” prepare and react as compared to those in the cities. Some of that deals with what is available and in what quantities when weather tries to kill us.
As before, much of this comes from previous posts I’ve made about this topic. I have added/changed some things that are germane during the ongoing, never-ending Covid ‘crisis’.
During severe weather it is quite common to lose electricity and sometimes telephone, cable, Internet, and cell service. The farther away you live from 'civilization', the more likely you are to lose power. Heavy thunderstorms, ice storms, snow storms, or heavy winds can knock tree limbs down, taking power lines with them. It's a common occurrence out here. Eventually you'll learn to live with it and be prepared for it. Or you won't.
Be aware that many homes out in the country have wells rather than municipal water. Wells use pumps and pumps require electricity. Remember this phrase: “Generators and gas caddies are your best friends.”
During a heavy snow storm there is no such thing as a short trip to the store. If you know a storm is coming, get everything you need well beforehand. A trip that normally takes 10 or 15 minutes can take up to 2 hours if the roads are covered with a foot or more of snow. Of course that assumes you don't get stuck somewhere along the way to or from the store. (That also assumes the store is open.) If you do get stuck you might be lucky and they'll find your frozen corpse before the spring thaw.
Regardless of the season, four wheel drive doesn't mean you'll still be able to get where you're going. Too many folks have found out the hard way that all four wheel drive means is getting stuck deeper in the woods. Just because four wheel drive vehicles have more traction for getting moving, particularly in the snow, they don't stop any better than two wheel drive cars or trucks because all vehicles have four wheel braking. Inertia is a bitch.
A flooded road, isn't. If you can't see the surface of the road ahead of you because a river or stream has overrun its banks and washed over the road, there's no guarantee that the road is still there. If you like the role of a crash test dummy, go right ahead and give it a try. But don't be surprised if the road disappears from beneath your wheels and you find that you're now a boat, and a quickly sinking one at that.
This is dated since the number of homes with actual landlines has plummeted since the original posting some years ago, but this advice still applies:
Cordless phones are nothing but an ornament if the electricity goes out. Have at least one wired phone somewhere in your house. If you live in a town fortunate enough to still have cell service, don't count on it being available if regular phone lines are knocked out by bad weather. Everyone will be trying to use their cellphones the same time you are and the cell site will be overloaded. That's assuming, of course, that the cell site is still functioning and hasn't been knocked out by the bad weather. Some additional (updated) advice: Unless it is absolutely necessary, text rather than call someone you're trying to reach. Texting takes a lot less bandwidth than a voice call and places less of a burden on the local cell site. Your message is more likely to get through.
Don't be bashful about asking a neighbor for help. The corollary to that is don't be bashful about offering a neighbor help. Sometimes they have knowledge, skills, or tools that you don't have and vice versa. You're all in this together.
Chainsaws are your friend. They have multiple uses and come in handy of you have to clear a fallen tree from across your driveway, car, or roof of your house. Just make sure you know how to use them and wear the proper protective gear – safety glasses, earplugs or muffs, leather gloves, shin guards, and a hard hat. They also come in handy when you're cutting up your soon-to-be firewood. In a pinch they can also be used to help dispose of evidence....
There are also tools you'll need for winter. One is a snow shovel. There are many types, so you'll have to shop around to find the one that works best for you.
Another tool, nice to have, but not always necessary, is a snowblower. If you have a long driveway or large parking area in front of your garage, the last thing you'll want to do is shovel it all by hand. A snowblower does the trick and is far cheaper than a snow plow. Of course you could always hire someone else to plow your driveway, but it's not as much fun as using your toy..uh..snowblower and you're entirely dependent on someone else's schedule.
Last, but not least, the one tool you'll need to buy, beg, borrow, or steal is a roof rake. It's not something you use to remove leaves from the roof, but for raking snow.
“Now why would anyone want to rake snow?” you might ask. The last thing anyone wants is snow piling up on the roof. It's heavy and can get heavier if there is any rain or freezing rain after a snowfall. You don't want to find out how strong your roof really is by testing it to destruction. And then, there's something called ice dams.
Ice dams form as the snow on your roof melts. As the water from the melted snow reaches the edge of the roof it can refreeze, forming a ridge of ice, just like a dam across a river. As more snow melts and starts to back up behind the ice dam, the melt water can work its way under roof shingles and start leaking inside your house. It's can be expensive to fix and is damned inconvenient (no pun intended....well actually, yes it was). Roof rakes can remove the snow from your roof and help prevent roof collapse or ice dams. Roof rakes are far safer than going up to shovel the snow off your roof . Trust me, I know from first hand experience. I've got the two plates and twelve screws in my ankle and lower leg to prove it.
And so ends another episode of The Weekend Pundit's Guide To Country Living, Post Covid edition.