Natural weather events like severe snowstorms usually come with advance warning. This small window of opportunity allows you to prepare ahead of time, so you can best protect your family and home from these potentially dangerous winter storms.
What to Expect
Some snowstorms can be severe and last for several days. The deep snowfall, sleet, freezing rain, strong winds and deadly wind chills these storms may produce can cause a whole host of dangers, including:
- Car accidents
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Difficulty breathing (especially if you have asthma or COPD)
- Heart attacks from exertion
- Loss of communication
- Power outages
Children, those who are sick and the elderly are at a greater risk for health issues related to extreme cold weather.
Prepare Your Family
Aside from ensuring that each of your family members know how to help when you’re trapped in your home, you should also learn the emergency plans for snowstorms at your workplace and your children’s schools or day care centers.
Reassure your children that if a severe snowstorm happens when they’re away from you that you’ll make contact with them as soon as it’s safe, and that God is with them even when you can’t be.
It’s also best to think about how you’ll handle caring for your pets during a winter weather emergency. To keep them safe, it’s best to bring your pets indoors during any severe storm. After all, the same dangers that pose a threat to your family can harm your pets as well.
Have supplies ready for cleanup of waste inside your home since your furry friends may not be able to go outside, and be sure to store extra food and water during the winter.
Prepare Your Home
Your home is your biggest investment and worth protecting. Use these tips to prepare your home for a snowstorm.
Have an Evacuation Supply Kit Ready
Put your family’s kit together well ahead of the winter season, and keep it in an easily accessible and secure location. For more information on what to include, we have some tips on what to include in your disaster kit.
You may also want to keep a battery-operated radio on hand so you can tune into the NOAA broadcast. Having reliable, up-to-date information during a storm can be reassuring and help you to remain calm.
Make Sure You Have the Tools You Need
Take time well before a snowstorm happens to ensure your snow removal equipment is in good working order. If you typically store your tools in an outside shed, you might also think about moving it into an attached garage or basement. In fact, if there has been heavy snowfall or ice, you may not be able to open your entry and garage doors. And you’ll need your equipment to clear your walkways, driveway and a path to your vehicles.
Plan How You’ll Keep Your Home Warm and Functioning
During a severe snowstorm, losing power is likely. You’ll need to plan alternate methods for keeping your family warm and your appliances operating until your power is restored. You could consider using an existing fireplace, or buying a generator, a freestanding wood or coal-burning stove or a kerosene heater.
If you decide on a generator, it’s best to run your generator outside only, and away from doors and windows since the exhaust can be deadly. You should also be sure to have fuel on hand.
If you have a fireplace, you could use it for heat as long as you keep plenty of firewood available and accessible.
You may also want to keep plastic sheeting on hand for emergencies. In a pinch, you can use it to cover the inside of your windows and doors to keep the heat in and the cold air out.
Protect Your Pipes From Freezing
Frozen pipes cannot only block access to running water, they can turn into a costly problem afterwards. Taking a few steps now to protect your home’s pipes, can save you time and trouble later:
- Drain pool water and sprinkler supply lines, if appropriate
- Keep your cold water handle on just enough to allow a constant trickle
- Maintain a consistent heat to keep your pipes warm
- Open any cabinet doors near pipes to allow warmer air in to circulate around the plumbing
- Remove garden hoses from outdoor spigots and open the valve enough to allow a small drip
Ready Your Vehicle
Your vehicle is a vital part of everyday life and gets you where you need to be. However, your vehicles are only as good as the care you give them. Follow these tips for maintaining safe vehicles so you can avoid getting stranded during a snowstorm:
- Have tires checked for wear, and install tire chains or snow tires with studs if your area requires them
- Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full
- Winterize your vehicles (battery, antifreeze, windshield wipers, washer fluid, lights, hazard lights, exhaust and ignition systems, oil, brake fluid, defroster and brakes)
You might also consider keeping a roadside emergency kit in each of your vehicles. This kit may include:
- A bright red cloth to attach to your antenna if you get stranded
- A change of warm clothing for each family member (also consider extra gloves, hat and water-resistant boots)
- Several blankets
- Small bag of sand or traction mats
- Small broom
- Windshield scraper
With a Little Prep You Can Weather the Storm
While severe winter storms can’t be prevented, preparing for them ahead of time can help your family navigate them successfully and stay out of harm’s way. Work as a team to prep your home and vehicles, and to create a step-by-step plan for when a storm passes through your area.
If you do experience a medical emergency related to a winter snowstorm, call 911 immediately. Due to road conditions, driving to the nearest emergency roomcould put you even further in harm’s way and delay life-saving medical treatment.