Oh Blizzard!

Growing up in upstate New York we had our fair share of heavy snowstorms. But living in DC for the past 15+ years has been a different story. We recently had a record-breaking blizzard, and boy was it a doozy!

Since I moved to DC, I’ve been through a few big snowstorms. At home, we gathered some groceries, filled the bathtub with water, and hunkered down, knowing that during the storm we needed to stay home and safe, be ready for a power outage, and not expect to get out to work or school until the snow was somewhat cleared.

Handling snowstorms in DC has always been different and not consistently well-managed. For example, just two days before the blizzard hit we had one inch of snowfall that paralyzed the city with untreated roads and horrific traffic.

With my RA and physical limitations, I am well aware of needing to make special plans and think ahead. Frankly, I’m grateful we have weather forecasting and that I knew a few days out about the impending storm. I could take steps to prepare and manage as best as possible.

Here’s some actions we took to ready for the blizzard:

  • Checking medications. The pharmacy is going to be closed and I wouldn’t be able to get there during a blizzard anyway. So I looked at my medications to make sure I had at least a week of dosages. If not, I would have called my doctor to ask for some prescriptions at least 2-3 days out to give time for refilling.
  • Purchasing essential groceries.My husband and I created a list of food or any other items we would want around the house to last us a few days and then some. The day the storm started, we had a big pot of soup cooking. Full tummies always help!
  • Preparing for power loss. Knock on wood, we have never lost power in the years we have lived in our current home. But we listened to the forecast for heavy snow and high winds, suggesting that a power outage was a real possibility. We got out candles, turned up the heat, grabbed blankets, and filled a bucket and pots with water for “just in case.” We ended up being fine, but it was a relief to know we had our supplies ready in case.
  • Managing pain. I don’t know about you, but weather systems bring a lot of joint aches and pain. While we were preparing for the storm, it was also important to manage my pain so that I could be as comfortable as possible.
  • Expecting some extra time inside. The city will likely shovel out before I will be able to join them. By this I mean that ramps and sidewalk paths are the last places to be cleared. Because I use a wheelchair and not a snowmobile, it will take some time before I can get out and about. This means I brought my work home and am ready to work remotely until a combination of snow clearing and melting will accommodate my wheelchair outside.

One of the initiatives around this storm I was really happy to see promoted was DC government recruiting and dispersing citizens to help shovel and clear snow for people unable do to it. In past years, this has been a real challenge for me because areas not cleared leave me trapped. Additionally, I cannot shovel snow myself because it is too physically demanding.

For me, keeping safe and out of the way at home is the best thing I can do during a blizzard or major weather event. It means preparing in advance, knowing my limits, and asking for help from neighbors (family or friends) if I need it.

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