Winter Storm Preparation
No matter where you live, it's likely that you'll face some kind of severe winter weather at some point in your life. Blizzards can create the most extreme and dangerous driving conditions, while heavy snowstorms, accompanied by wind, can knock down power lines, leaving you without heat or means of communication. Preparing for winter storms ahead of time gives you and your family peace of mind when a harsh winter hits. Here are some helpful tips to get you ready for winter's wrath.
- Prepare your emergency kit and be sure to replenish it each winter with winter specific gear.
- Make a communications plan with your family. Your family may not be together as a unit when disaster hits, so it's important to discuss how you will contact each other, and what actions you'll take in case of an emergency.
- Stay connected to a radio or TV for alerts from the NOAA and for warnings from the National Weather Service for all hazardous conditions. Download free smart phone apps such as those available from FEMA or the American Red Cross. They provide information about finding shelters and how to receive first aid if you need it.
- Limit travel. If you absolutely have to travel, then be sure and keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
- Bring pets and other animals inside to a place where they have access to fresh water as opposed to frozen water.
- Winterize your home. This includes insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
- Clean chimneys and other heating equipment and make sure they are inspected each year.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic. If a hard freeze is expected, be sure and allow faucets to drip a little to avoid solid freezing. Even a minimal trickle of water helps prevent pipes from freezing solid.
- Winterize your vehicle. This includes making sure your antifreeze levels are good, make sure your battery, ignition system, and tires (snow tires!) are in top condition, and replace fuel and air filters. Check for the level and weight of your oil as heavier oils congeal more at low temps and don't lubricate as well. Also be sure your windshield wipers are working well and install good winter tires. They need adequate tread and in some extreme cases of icy and snowy terrain, chains or snow tires with studs are required.
- If traveling by bus or car, be sure and bring extra layers of clothing and warm blankets. You don't want to be stranded somewhere without a heater or lack of protection from the cold. Pack an extra water bottle and some snacks, too.