Winter Storm Preparedness Guide

It’s 24 hours before the big storm is supposed to strike—is your home ready for the weather? Winter storms can bring extended power outages, and of course, may keep you homebound for a few days. And naturally, wind and ice pose a threat to your home and physical safety as well. Here’s what you need to do when ice, snow and sleet are in the forecast to make sure you’re covered before the first snowflake falls.

a lonely house covered with snow

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Supplies

If you live in an area where snow is commonplace, then you probably already have a lot of these in your garage or shed. But for those of us who are new to this whole snow thing, a freak storm can seriously catch you offguard. At a minimum, you’ll need the following:

  • A snow shovel for digging out your car and your sidewalks.
  • Rock salt and sand for walkways and stairs. Make sure it’s petsafe if you have critters or young kiddos running around!
  • An ice scraper for your car windshield. (Don’t be like this guy!)

You also might want to have a few things to keep yourself comfortable in case the power goes out or in the event that you’re trapped at home for a few days. That means:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Firewood or another independent heat source
  • Flashlights
  • Candles and matches
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • Bottled water

snowy houses in the sunshine

Get Your Home Ready

Okay, now that you’ve braved the lines at the grocery store, it’s time to get your house ready for the deep freeze ahead. A couple of tasks you might want to consider:

  • Install storm windows outside or place insulating plastic film over the interiors of windows.
  • Trim dead branches that could pose a hazard in the wind.
  • Wind up hoses and bring in outdoor chairs and toys.
  • Cover your houseplants or bring them inside.
  • Turn your faucets to a slow drip to prevent your pipes from bursting.
  • Make sure pets are inside before precipitation starts to fall.
  • Park your car in the garage if hail or sleet may be an issue.

It’s not a bad idea to have your roof and heating system inspected this time of year, as well. This will help you avoid leaks and heating loss during extreme weather events. If you have time, clean your gutters, as well, since they provide vital leak protection by funneling runoff and snow melt off your roof and down to the ground.

cozy slippered feet by the fire

Stay Safe During the Storm

A lot of these suggestions seem obvious, but it never hurts to repeat them, since every year someone ignores common sense and gets themselves into serious trouble. For one thing, stay off the roads if they’re not safe to travel on. The local news can help you stay updated on road conditions in your area, but if you can avoid leaving home, do it.

Also remember not to overdo it when you’re outside shoveling. Clearing snow by hand is exhausting, draining work, especially when the weather outside is frightful, and it can be easy to overexert yourself or hurt your back. So go easy with the shoveling. Do it in shifts if you have to.

When you do go outside, make sure to wear several layers of warm, dry clothing, including mittens or gloves and a water-repellent outer layer.

For more tips on winter storm safety, Ready.gov has a huge checklist of safety guidelines. Stay warm and keep safe everyone!

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