Winter is quickly approaching, and with it, winter weather. If the last few years has shown us anything, we’re due for at least one big storm. These storms can be deadly if you don’t take the necessary precautions.

Chief among these precautions is making a game plan for the storm and preparation beforehand. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Outside Your Home

Getting the outside of your home ready for the storm goes a long way toward keeping the storm outside. Your roof is a great place to start. A professional can inspect your roof to ensure it’s winter-ready.

If you wish to check for yourself, there are a few areas that are important. First, check for any loose shingles. These may be torn off in a storm’s high winds. Next, clean your gutters of leaves or blockages. These can cause clogs that may freeze in the winter, leading to leaks and expensive repairs in the spring.

After you’ve taken care of the roof, you’ll want to shut off any water sources outside. If there’s water left in the external faucets, they may freeze during the winter. As the water expands due to freezing, it can cause damage to both the faucet and pipes. To prevent this, be sure to close the shut-off valve on your faucet and disconnect your garden hose.

Finally, prepare your home for snow removal. If you don’t own a snow shovel or snow blower, you should pick them up before you need them! Laying out salt or ice melt before the storm will also make walkways safer, helping to prevent them from freezing. However, it’s important to know your limits. Snow removal can be very taxing on your heart, so take it easy and know when to ask a neighbor for help.

Inside Your Home

Even if you’re planning on staying toasty by the fire while it storms outside, there are things you need to prepare. Keep in mind, it’s not uncommon for the electricity to be knocked out during a storm. If you lose power, you’ll be glad if you’ve already prepared.

One of the ways to keep yourself safe indoors is to ensure you have alternative heat sources. These include a fireplace, kerosene-fueled or generator-powered space heaters or just as importantly, blankets and warm clothes. To keep the heat contained in rooms you’re using, close all doors in the house.

To further prepare for a power outage, gather lights like flashlights or candles. You don’t know how long the power may be out, so be extra prepared. As with anything dealing with heat or fire, have a fire extinguisher on hand. Also, make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have working batteries. There is a real danger of fire caused by alternative heating sources during an outage.

In the days before the storm, assemble an emergency kit and gather daily essentials including food, drink, or toilet paper. Any food you bring home shouldn’t need refrigeration in the case of lost power. You’ll especially want to stock up on water, storing at least one gallon per person in your household for three days. In your pre-storm shopping, also ensure you pick up things like milk, bread, meat, or batteries. For your emergency kit, you’ll want:

  • Emergency first-aid kit
  • At least an additional week’s worth of any prescription medications
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Portable or battery-powered cell phone charger
  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
  • 3 days-worth of non-perishable food

Once you know a storm is coming, head to the store to gather the essentials. The earlier you gather supplies, the less likely you’ll deal with blizzard crowds.

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Once you’re prepared for the storm, you can sit back and enjoy the winter wonderland that’s unfolding in front of you. Keep your family safe and warm as the snow falls outside this winter, and be ready for whatever comes your way!

Further Reading

Red Cross — Be Red Cross Ready
Ready.gov — Snowstorms & Extreme Cold