Portland, Oregon, recently made national news for snow and blizzard-level winds during Martin Luther King Weekend, sending the region into a deep freeze. The winter ice storm caused widespread damage, including significant power outages, downed trees, and deaths. The governor declared a state of emergency for Oregon.

Some Oregonians were forced to spend many days without power and heat, prompting people to ask themselves what they would do differently to prepare for future emergencies and weather events. 

The following list is designed to help you start from scratch or double-check your preparedness. It includes nuggets from our most recent experience and those of friends and various national emergency preparedness resources. 

How to Prep When a Storm is Coming:
  • Open all cabinets under faucets to allow airflow and leave faucets dripping
  • Unplug electronics and devices or use surge protectors
  • Charge cell phones, electronics, and backup chargers
  • Preload a cooler with ice and freeze jugs of water to help keep the freezer cold
  • Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls
  • Winterize the outside of your house:
    • Crawl Space vent covers
    • Faucet covers 
    • Flush irrigation lines
    • Flush hoses and store inside 
  • Identify your water shut-off valve and if you have a gas water heater that can still allow for warm water/showers in the event of a power outage
  • Grind Coffee Beans
  • Run garbage disposal, dishwasher, and laundry
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Headlamps, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Extra cash
  • Firewood
  • Ice melt for sidewalks and pathways
  • First aid kit
  • One-week supply of prescriptions 
  • Sleeping bags
  • Warm clothing
  • Pet food
  • Cell phone portable battery chargers
  • Indoor thermometer
  • Yaktrax for shoes
  • Rechargeable light bulbs
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list, medical information, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • For those wanting to go the whole home generator route, note the following:
    • Hire an electrician to wire your electrical panel to accommodate a large generator properly
    • Flow limitations to older gas lines must be upgraded to accommodate larger, whole-home generators 
  • Make sure it’s serviced annually
  • Stock up on extra gas or propane 
  • Keep the generator outside where it’s dry and protected from rain or flooding
  • Heavy-duty extension cords
  • Check your antifreeze level 
  • Check your windshield wiper fluid and ensure you have a wintertime mixture
  • Replace worn tires, check the air pressure in your tires, and consider using winter tires or chains
  • Keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines
  • Emergency supplies for your car:
    • Blanket
    • Flares
    • Warm clothing
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight
    • Water and snacks
    • Cell phone charger
    • Snow shovel
    • Boots
Annual Action Items:
  • If you plan to use your fireplace or wood stove for heating, have your chimney or flue inspected and cleaned each year
  • Weatherproof home:
    • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows 
    • Insulate walls and attic
    • Insulated doors and thermal-pane windows
  • Review insurance policies and determine what is covered and what isn’t:
    • Downed tree coverage? If so, how much? 
    • Burst pipes from freezing temperatures? How much? 
    • Hotel stay from burst pipes or downed trees? How much per night?
  • If you claim a downed tree or burst pipes, will this deem you uninsurable in the future? What will?
Have Backup Plans:
  • Have a few phone numbers for local hotels saved in your phone in case WiFi isn’t working
  • Be in communication with friends and family with a plan of where to stay if your power is out for an extended period of time

Wondering what makes sense in your situation? Reach out… we’re here to help.

Uplevel Wealth is a fee-only, fiduciary wealth management firm serving clients in Portland, OR, and virtually throughout the U.S. 

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