I was at the orthodontist with my daughter this week. As we settled on a date for her next check-up which takes us six weeks out into early March, I commented (and with sincerity) – that it was a shame that winter would almost be over when that appointment date arrives. As you might imagine, a few grimaces were thrown my way.

I’m in the minority when it comes to being in love with winter. But, what I’ve realized is that as much as people grumble about snow, a special bond forms between all of us while we’re in the grocery store stocking up on bread, butter and milk just before a big storm. Complete strangers, who likely would not have noticed each other otherwise, comment to each other, “Some storm we’re going to have,” or, “I remember the blizzard of ’67.”

Just as some people begrudge the white stuff, they seem fascinated by it and perhaps a little bit nostalgic. Wintertime does bring back some of the best childhood memories. Our minds glorify those long ago storms, when the snow was almost as high as the roof and snow forts were so tall that you could walk through them.

I don’t remember us preparing for storms as a child. I think we simply dealt with whatever came our way. When the roads were too dangerous for travel, we took our sled to the grocery store and pulled our bags home. When the power went out, we played charades. We didn’t go down to the basement for warnings, because we might have missed something.

We were pretty fearless as children. I still chuckle when I think back to the tree that flew past our house and my sister said, “It’s like we’re in the ‘Wizard of Oz.’” It never dawned on us that the tree could have smashed through our house.

Life is different now. Besides having to be a responsible adult, new technology helps us to be informed long before most storms. With the accessibility of news, we can see the real-time danger of floods, blizzards and other extreme weather. And, I no longer live within walking distance to a grocery store. If I had to pull a sled to the grocery store, it would be spring before I arrived back home.

With the chance of an ice storm in the forecast for this weekend, it’s wise to prepare ahead of it. Even if the jet stream takes the storm on another track this time, there’s plenty of winter left for another storm to hit. Especially when you have children who will be relying upon you for warmth, safety and entertainment, thoughtful planning can keep meltdowns at bay. And, amidst the howling winds or clapping thunder, you might just create some special family memories.

Below are some tips for preparing ahead of a storm. They are common sense ideas; but ones that we often don’t think about until the need arises. Keep in mind that a weather radio is a great investment. Even if the power goes out, you’ll still be able to get weather updates.

In case the power goes out ...

In case you do lose power, you’ll want to rely on a light source other than candles which are a fire hazard and especially dangerous around young children and pets. Flashlights and battery-operated lanterns are good alternatives. Have them ready with working batteries and keep spare batteries nearby. My husband has a secret stash of batteries so we’re never without them.

If you’re using an alternative heat source, such as a generator, be sure to follow instructions. Proper usage better ensures your safety from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t wait until a power outage to discover that your generator needs fuel or to be flashed.

Know where you can go if power is out for an extended time and your home is unbearably cold or simply unsafe.

Those of us who rely on a well are without water when the power goes out. Keep some extra water on hand. You may also want to keep hand sanitizer at the sink. When you just can’t wait, a toilet may be used but not flushed.

Do not open the refrigerator. This keeps the cold air trapped for as long as possible. The website, https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html, provides guidelines for food safety when the power goes out. Have food available that doesn’t require refrigeration or electricity to prepare.

Avoiding boredom …

We have a generation of children who don’t quite know how to entertain themselves without electricity. A power outage may be a blessing in disguise as you’re forced into togetherness. Playing charades, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, making shadow puppets with your hands, coloring or reading can occupy children of all ages. Doing these things by the light of a lantern makes it even more fun.

If you must go out …

Watch for downed branches and power lines, slick spots and impassable roads. Keep safety items in your car, such as kitty litter, a shovel and flares or safety light. Be prepared with blankets, water and food (such as packaged crackers) in case you’re behind a long line of traffic waiting for an accident to clear or stuck without the means to get pulled out. Keep prescriptions, such as insulin, with you as a precaution.

Be safe as we head into the heart of winter, and pause to enjoy its beauty and create special family memories.

Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dunebrook, call (800) 897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at pam@dunebrook.org.

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