Luke Simpson, EditorI probably shouldn’t taunt Mother Nature — especially when I live in blizzard-prone Wisconsin — but I feel more prepared than ever this year. And by that I mean I have actually taken steps to prepare instead of simply hoping for the best.

Working with business continuity professionals over the past 18 months has had a profound effect on me, both professionally and personally.

Just over a year ago we had a weekend power outage here in Madison and I didn’t even have a flashlight in the house. Luckily it was in October and still relatively warm, but with an infant at home I couldn’t help but think it could have been much worse.

So, I recently developed a personal winter weather “plan” for situations where a blizzard or winter storm results in a power outage — a scenario that is not uncommon around here.

Firstly, I replaced my ancient fireplace with a high-efficiency wood heater that emits an impressive amount of heat — even when the fan is off, which would be the case during a power outage. In addition, I topped up the insulation and replaced old windows with triple-pane glass to make sure the wood heater can independently heat the entire house.

Of course, I also make sure we’re always well stocked with food staples, water, firewood and batteries for the various flashlights I now have strategically positioned around the house. In the event of a long-term power outage I plan to use our Weber grill and a dutch oven (cast iron cooking pot) to cook basic meals such as pasta and oatmeal.

Hurricane Sandy revealed how quickly fuel shortages can take hold following a significant weather event, so I’ve started topping off the fuel tank whenever it gets below half way. And I didn’t wait until the first snow fall to get the snow tires put on.

I feel like I’ve made a good start, but there are two critical things I still need to do:

  1. Document the plan. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not a plan until it’s documented. It seems a little redundant to put it on paper but I think the process of documentation will reveal gaps and allow for input from my wife.
  2. Exercise the plan. I’m sure that when I’m trying to cook on a Weber in the middle of winter I’ll find that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Also, if I find that the heater cannot heat the whole house I will need to partition non-essential areas by closing doors, etc.

It’s been an interesting experience applying some of the same business continuity concepts I read and write about here at Continuity Insights to my personal life, such as identifying critical systems (heating, cooking) and implementing backup systems.

I’ll be perfectly happy if I never need to put my winter weather plan into action, but if I can’t get my snowboard out in the next two or three weeks I think I’ll have to buy a ticket to Colorado.

What do you think about my personal winter weather preparedness plan? Leave a comment below.