On Tuesday, January 27, winter storm Juno plowed through the northeastern United States, leaving several states with over a foot of snow. Some awoke to feet of snow piled in front of their doors, while others (like my region of New York) awoke with just six inches on the ground. And it was the fluffy variety of snow, too – soft and light, making shoveling far easier, and the roads available come Wednesday morning. Some northeasterners got the short end of the stick, but Juno did not pack the overall punch predicted by meteorologists.
Still, the preparedness (or frantic rushing) of blizzard expectees remained; a short trip to the grocery store for bread and dinner involved weaving around shoppers with carts full of water, soda, and all varieties of food. Customers at the gas station were filling up gallons of gas for generators, and their panic began to creep over me. Did we have enough gas sitting in the generator to last more than a few hours? How much microwavable food did we have at home? And should I have bought bottled water?
The snow passed quickly, but it got me thinking – would we be prepared for the real “snowpocalypse”? How would we handle being trapped in our homes for days, the roads unfit for travel, the snow piled high, preventing escape through all conventional house doors?
If we consider the five basic human needs for survival, we know that water and food are at the top of the list (below oxygen, but unless the snowstorm is burying entire houses, we should be fine, right?). Humans cannot survive more than three or four days without water, and starvation can take weeks depending on how many fat reserves the body has. And most of us have more than one person living in our home to provide for, meaning we need even more water and more food to consume per day. Without electricity, most of us don’t have access to fresh water, and our fresh food relies on how cool our refrigerators are.
I would likely be as ready as the average household member for the snowpocalypse. We have some nonperishable food stored in the cabinets, though not much. We fill buckets with water when expecting power outages, and there is all that snow outside. And I have actual rations in my bug-out bag as an added bonus!
Humans also need protection from the elements to survive in any given situation. Thankfully, we have our homes, with windows sealed tight and doors that close, but what about heat? Several homeowners today have a backup generator, whether it is a small model or a larger, more powerful one. Heat is important in the winter, and most of us rely on electricity for heat. If you have a fireplace and a large supply of wood, you are ahead of the game! If you have a wood burning stove, well, I guess you win the game. Solar panels are also cool, though they probably require being cleared from snow to work, yeah?
Our heat heavily relies on our electric. We have a generator, which has the capacity to power the pellet stove, but only until the gas runs out. We have lots of blankets, though! Layers and layers of warm, fluffy blankets.
Finally, all humans require sleep to survive. While this doesn’t have much to do with our snowpocalypse problems, it has been scientifically proven that temperature affects the ability to sleep comfortably and deeply. So, theoretically, if your house was too cold (and you aren’t surrounded by fluffy blankets and comforters like I am), your body might not get the amount of sleep it needs to function properly. This can cause anything from headaches to (in more serious cases) hallucinations and impaired thinking. Imagine having to trek outdoors into the snow with that!
This has all been assuming the snowpocalypse is a just a severe winter storm, possibly lasting for days. Imagine what would happen if the snowy landscape never ended! There are numerous tales involving immense winter storms, even actual apocalyptic scenarios. If you have ever seen The Shining, imagine trying to travel with that much snow to contend with. And remember to be safe this winter season!