Winter weather can get nasty and one of the cruelest situations is a full-blown ice storm. Having snow dumped on your house, driveway, and car is a pain to dig yourself out of.
Moreover, an ice storm or a blizzard can leave layers of ice coating everything in sight and lead to downed power lines, fallen trees, and power losses for days and even weeks.
There’s nothing you can do to stop scary weather, but you can be prepared when the weather outside is truly frightful.
Don’t wait until the forecast is calling for bad weather. Prepare your home for these and other types of emergencies now. Even heavy rain around zero degrees can quickly freeze, leading to many of the same problems as an ice storm or blizzard.
Home Preparation and Damage Prevention Tips
- Create a disaster plan for all scenarios with your family in case of a fire, flood, earthquake, or any type of storm. Review these plans regularly and practice carrying them out.
- Have multiple first aid kits around the home and let everyone know where they are.
- Prepare a cold weather emergency supply kit.
- Have hard copies of all relevant phone numbers and addresses on hand because you can’t rely on your phone once it’s dead.
- Teach everyone and yourself how to shut off the water, electricity, and gas, and locate all related valves and switches.
- Have emergency water and food supplies available all year ‘round. Replace food that has gone bad. Bottled water is important to have as water from the tap might not be safe to drink.
- Have plenty of batteries on hand to replace those in your necessary electronics like flashlights and radios.
- Have plenty of extra blankets, warm clothes, and layer-able articles – enough to clothe everyone, any guests, and replacements if things get wet. Always have lots of socks!
- Don’t let your car sit with a near-empty tank of gas. It’s best for regular maintenance and for emergencies when you can’t visit a gas station.
- Always stay up-to-date with your prescription medications like pills, asthma inhalers, and epi pens.
If the power goes out
- Unplug major electronics from the wall and those that could be damaged during a power surge, like appliances, the TV, DVD player, consoles, and the microwave.
- If it looks like power will remain out for many days, drain the water from pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting, which could prevent a flood.
- For all plumbing emergencies, contact local plumbing services when you need them after first shutting off your water supply. If you do have power, turn it off if there is a risk of electrical shock.
- Have a professional hook up your generator for you and always have the instructions handy. A gas generator can’t be used indoors due to deadly fumes, even with ventilation.
- Keep food cold as long as possible by keeping the fridge and freezer doors closed. Mark the time of the power out because frozen goods will keep for about 48 hours. Always discard perishables that thaw or become room temperature. Eat the food that will go bad first.
- If you’re using an emergency heat source like a heater, wood stove, or fireplace, make sure to ventilate the area properly. Keep fire safety in mind when using candles for a light source or warmth and don’t overdo it. Only have candles lit in rooms someone is currently in.
- Keep extra warm over night when it is coldest with extra layers and blankets.
- Charge your cell phone using a car charger and use it sparingly.
- To handle many scenarios that might arise, plan a family meeting and talk about what to do during a storm and what you’ll all need to have on hand. Everyone can contribute and bring up points you might be forgetting.