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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Prepare yourself for the Arizona winter

A snowy road in northern Arizona.
Winter in Arizona is a tricky thing. It might be sunny and 75 degrees in Phoenix and snowing and 28 degrees in Flagstaff. Or it can be a balmy 85 degrees one day and a chilly 55 degrees the next. Our diverse climate means that we need to be prepared no matter where we live or where we are going to travel.

With that in mind, my family was planning a quick trip up North last weekend. Our plan was to spend Thanksgiving day in Prescott Valley, spend the night in Sedona and then travel to Flagstaff the following day.

I knew that we needed to be prepared for a range of weather and temperatures. We packed clothes that could be layered for warmth. We also brought gloves and hats.

One of the things I always do before a road trip is to ensure my car is in tip-top shape. It had just been serviced, so I checked that off my list. Always make sure your car is ready for a long trip – fluids are at the right levels, brakes and lights work, tires are properly inflated (as well as your spare – I had a flat spare once when I needed it, but that’s a whole different story), windshield wipers are functional, full tank of gas, etc.

I keep an emergency supplies kit in my car that changes with the seasons. I pulled it out to check the contents. Inside the kit was:
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • first aid kit
  • pocket knife
  • battery powered radio
  • matches
  • tool kit (pliers, screwdriver, wrench)
  • jumper cables
  • emergency blankets
  • fleece blanket
  • plastic bags
  • duct tape
  • gloves and hats
  • granola bars
  • water packs
  • bright cloth (for a distress flag)
  • newspaper

And even though there was no call for snow, I threw in a small bag of kitty litter and a small shovel. I can’t help it. I like to be prepared. A phone charger and tissues are always in my car as well.

The morning before we headed out, I packed a bag with games and activities for my daughter, and extra snacks and bottles of water for each of us. We checked the weather to see if anything had changed (a storm was supposed to come later in the weekend), and we were off.

As we headed up Interstate-17 on the bright and sunny Thanksgiving morning, my daughter said she wished it would snow so much that we would be trapped in Sedona for a week. While that certainly sounds lovely to a six year old, I did not agree. I thought about how we would need to get extra food, water and medicine. If you live in an area (or are planning to visit) where you could get enough snow to keep you there for a few days, you need to be prepared. Make sure you have enough food, water and other supplies to last at least three days (more if you know a large storm system is coming). And if the power goes out, you should have contingency plans to keep safe and warm.

Our weekend was full of chilly morning hikes and fun with the family. No 24-inches of snow, icy roads or busted pipes. Our biggest concern was where to find a meal in Sedona at 7:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night that didn’t consist of turkey.

The Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) has many more winter preparation and safety tips. 

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