Tyler Gomez — like many other Omahans — was without power for almost a week after a July windstorm.
It made Gomez, a native Californian, wonder what would happen should he and his girlfriend find themselves without power during their first Midwestern winter.
Gomez, 19, and his girlfriend Ivy Drop, 21, moved to Omaha in April.
“We know it gets real cold here,” said Gomez, who lives southwest of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. “We didn’t want something like that to happen during the dead of winter. That’s what got us thinking we should probably start preparing for this new beast that we’ve never been through.”
Gomez posted on the Nextdoor app, asking his neighbors for recommendations on how to make it through his first “real winter.”
The post prompted nearly 300 comments, with commenters offering suggestions for how to be prepared at home, in the car or on foot.
One suggestion came as a shock to Gomez: Have a winter weather kit in the car, just in case you get stuck or stranded. Commenters suggested keeping such items as blankets, flashlights, warm clothing, shovels and kitty litter in the trunk.
Gomez said he and his girlfriend already own many of the things neighbors listed as necessary to survive the winter. They have boots, gloves, scarves and other warm clothing.
One commenter who came here from Hawaii told Gomez that he might question why anyone lives in Nebraska during the winter months. He referenced the Nebraska tourism slogan: “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”
“The winters here are rough, but the people are great all year round,” the commenter from Hawaii added.
Several commenters suggested using pet-friendly ice melt. Another said that anyone moving a Chihuahua to this climate will be met with a seriously unhappy pup.
Other suggestions, which might aid Nebraska transplants and natives alike, included:
Don’t let your gas tank get below half a tank in cold weather.
Have plenty of ice melt on hand and buy it well ahead of the first storm.
Buy sturdy ice scrapers and shovels.
Dress in layers and remember to cover your ears.
Shovel and blow snow away from the house and break off any icicles from the roof.
When driving, take it slow and give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Make sure to leave extra distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
Stock up on groceries ahead of the first storm.
One commenter said people here are particularly fond of buying bread and milk.
Wash your vehicle on warm winter days to keep the road salt off.
Take advantage of those warm days to put up or take down Christmas decor in the yard.
Watch for potholes in the road once things start warming up. Potholes can leave roads looking like “Swiss cheese,” one commenter said.
Other commenters suggested watching the snow fall, sipping hot cocoa and eating homemade chili.
While Gomez is holding off on buying a snowblower, he already has started thinking about neighborhood routes with the fewest hills.
The advice Gomez is most excited to take: Have fun in the snow. He’s looking forward to sledding and watching snow accumulate on the trees.
Gomez said he and his girlfriend moved to Nebraska because housing is much less expensive here than in California.
Gomez grew up in a suburb of Santa Barbara, California. Winters there are similar to a Midwest fall, he said. The lows, he said, drop to about 40 degrees, but by afternoon, it’s typically 75 and sunny.
“You might wake up with frost on the grass,” Gomez said, “but you’re not going to wear a winter coat or anything like that.”