Winter is not necessarily a fan favorite season, and the byproduct of winter storms and blizzards are no exception. Across the U.S., winter storms, blizzards and extreme cold temperatures can cause serious damage.
They’re powerful and cold; a blizzard can have winds of more than 35 mph and visibility of less than ¼ mile for more than 3 hours. Severe winter storms and blizzards can develop quickly and threaten lives and homes. They can bring freezing rain, snow and extreme temperatures.
As a result, frostbite, hypothermia and car accidents are all possible risks. But rest assured - when you are informed and ready, you can lessen the impact. If you see these warnings on the news, it’s an indication to take immediate precautions:
- Winter Storm Warning
Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will come within 24 hours.
- Blizzard Warning
Sustained wind gusts of 35 mph, increased falling snow and visibility reduced to less than ¼ mile for 3 hours or more.
We understand how overwhelming this may seem. But if you think ahead and prepare in advance, you can protect your home and loved ones from harm. Here are a few important tips to stay safe and ready in the event of a winter emergency
Be Prepared for a Winter Storm
Know Your Risk
Learn your area’s risk for winter storms and keep in tune with up-to-date information from your community’s news. Stay alert and listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio or tune in to a local television station for real-time updates.
Prepare Your Family
Create a plan and discuss
Have a discussion with your loved ones about what you will do if a winter storm warning is issued. Be prepared to evacuate if you’re given the call to leave or if you lose power and heat. Ensure everyone has warm clothes including a coat, hats, mitts and waterproof boots available.
Keep an emergency supply kit
You’ll have peace of mind if you have a ready-made kit handy in case you need to stay home for several days without power or need to leave in an instant. Check out our expert-sourced kits full of everything you need in an emergency.
Prepare Your Home
Protect your pipes from freezing
Keep in mind that pipes are vulnerable to freeze and break under extreme weather. To prevent this from happening, remove, drain and store hoses used outside. Think about installing products made to insulate pipes such as a “pipe sleeve” or “heat cable”. Do not put antifreeze unless directed.
Buy emergency heating equipment
Consider purchasing emergency heating equipment like a fireplace, wood or coal-burning stove or an electric heater to have as a back-up. But use the right method of heating for your space and properly ventilate.
Insulate your home
Insulation helps to add another layer of warmth and keeps the freezing air out. Add insulation to window sills, basements, attics.
Prepare to leave
If you have to evacuate in a pinch, keep a supply of sidewalk salt or non-clumping kitty litter (yes it works!) to make walkways less slippery. And prepare your vehicle ahead of time: always have a full tank, emergency kit and warm clothes in your car so you can leave right away.
Be Safe During a Winter Storm
If you’re driving
Try to avoid driving until weather and traffic conditions have improved. But if you are stuck in a vehicle during a blizzard, then stay in the vehicle and wait for help while running the engine occasionally to keep warm (don’t keep it on constantly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning).
Display your headlights or trouble sign to indicate that you need help. To increase your body temperature, occasionally move your body and huddle with other people in the vehicle with you.
If you’re at home
If you’re stuck at home - stay indoors and wear warm clothes. Conserve fuel as much as you can; winter storms can last for several days, placing great demand on electric, gas and other fuel distribution systems.
If your thermostat is working, lower it to 65 °F (18 °C) during the day and to 55 °F (13 °C) at night. Close off unused rooms, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under the doors. Keep in mind that while it’s important to stay warm, don’t try to shovel the snow as overexertion can lead to a heart attack.
Just stay inside, continue to listen to your local news and keep drinking liquids and eating regularly to keep the body hydrated and fed. Monitor any signs of hypothermia or frostbite.
If you’re outside
Keep as dry and warm as possible. Wear proper clothing and change any wet clothing often to prevent a loss of body heat. If you don’t have enough head protection, cover your mouth to protect your lungs from cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths and don’t eat snow - it will only make you colder. Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
Are You Ready for a Winter Storm?
Do you have the tools and information you need to be prepared for the unpredictable? There’s no better time than the present to be a new prepared you. This is what readiness looks like!
If you have additional questions, send them our way!