We've already been through a couple of big storms this winter, one of which left Jim and me without power for a couple of days. As a blizzard of 'historic proportions' gets ready to dump 18 inches to two feet of snow on us, I'm reviewing my list of things I've learned to do in advance.

Water - In our house, one of the most important things is to fill a couple buckets with water 'just in case.' Anyone who lives in the country knows that a power outage means that you can't flush the toilet. Those buckets are important! Oh yeah, and we keep some drinking water on hand too - enough for us AND for the dogs!

Shovel - This afternoon, I'll put the shovel in the house. See, we have two dogs who, while they love snow, won't be impressed if they have to wade their way down the steps. And I won't be thrilled to do it either!

Batteries - We picked up a battery-operated lantern recently, because flickering candles and the smell of wax gets old pretty fast. Today I'll stop by the store and make sure to pick up some extra batteries for the lantern and for the flashlights. The stores will be crazy, guaranteed!

Food you don't have to cook - For my mother-in-law, that's not really a big issue, because she has a wood stove on which she can heat things up. She spent yesterday cooking, in advance, so all they had to do was warm it. For us, that means peanut butter, jelly, granola bars, and bread.

Generator - Make sure you have some extra gas on-hand, because you may not be able to get to the gas station. Make sure it's properly vented outside and set up away from the house to prevent the fumes from coming in through a window. It's not safe to set the generator up in a garage, even if you leave the door open because, at some point you have to go out and fuel it up. Fumes can build up in the structure and overtake you very quickly. Make sure it's properly hooked up to your home to avoid any 'charging back' that can be very dangerous for the crews that are trying to get your power back on. And if you don't have a generator, you might want to crank the heat a bit early in the storm to give you house a warm base to sustain for a while if the power goes out.

Cell Phone - I have the number for the Emera outage line programmed into my cell phone. And I'll make sure the phone is fully charged tonight! If your power goes out, call and report it! Don't assume that your neighbors will have done it. The utilities can't fix it if they don't know it's out! If someone in your family has a medical condition that makes a power outage an emergency situation, it's a good idea to also have your local law enforcement's phone number in your phone, so you can call for help.

Watch Out for Neighbors - Finally, look around your neighborhood and make note of the people who may need some extra help in a storm. Elderly folks and shut-ins may find it impossible to shovel, plow, or salt their driveways, so give them a hand. And be sure to stop by and check on them. Don't call and ask if they're okay because they may not be truthful, afraid of 'bothering you.' Knock on the door and stick your head inside, if not actually going inside, to make sure they have heat. If you're headed to the store, maybe ask if you can pick anything up for them.

Driving - Todd Simcox says the bulk of the snow is going to fall during the day tomorrow. So slow down, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, call ahead to make sure you really need to go out, watch out for each other, and be safe! This is Maine, where snowstorms are a fact of life. We got this!