12 Tips to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Staying warm and secure during bitterly cold temperatures or winter storms can be difficult. Cold temperatures, power outages, loss of communication services, and icy roads are all potential effects of winter storms. You should be aware of how to get your house and car ready before a winter storm hits in order to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Plan ahead to be ready before a winter storm arrives. Make a communication and emergency plan for your family in advance if you live in a region that frequently experiences winter weather.

Before the storm hits

1. Walk around your home and look for weak points

Grab a pen and paper and walk around your house and yard. Keep an eye out for anything that could cause trouble during a winter storm, particularly with regard to structural problems. 

Look out for shingles or loose siding that could blow off in a gust of wind. Additionally, look for any gaps where wind-swept rain could enter, as well as any toys or appliances that should be covered or stored away before the storm hits.

Take your time and make sure you inspect the foundation, roof, windows, and walls. Any items that require replacement or repair should be noted and completed as soon as possible, preferably before any storm arrives.

2. Trim trees and cover up delicate foliage

Becoming winter-ready starts before the first snowflake falls. 

Cut away all tree limbs that are too close to the ground or are too old to withstand a winter storm. Additionally, if they are isolated and take the full brunt of the wind, overgrown bushes and shrubs may benefit from some trimming. 

Prevent your outdoor faucets from freezing while you’re covering things up as well. Consider putting a tarp over your grill if there is going to be a lot of snow. (Note: Never cover a heat pump; they require air flow.)

3. Seal and caulk windows and doors

Make repairs if you’ve got a window that won’t close completely or a door that constantly feels drafty even when closed. If your old weatherstripping has worn down, installing new weatherstripping can address many draft issues. 

However, you might also want to think about replacing any severely damaged windows or doors that won’t hold up well during a winter storm. Additionally, smaller cracks need to be caulked to stop moisture damage.

4. Have a backup heat source

What happens if your main heating source stops working due to a power outage? The majority of gas fireplaces and furnaces need electricity. In order to run large heating appliances in your home, you will either need a generator or a different heating source, such as a wood stove, that doesn’t require electricity.

5. Buy more heating fuel if needed

If using wood as a secondary source of heating, make sure you have enough. Run on gas? For an early refill, consider calling your propane supplier.

Gather supplies

6. Create a list of winter storm supplies and stock up

Make sure you have enough emergency supplies in case a winter storm truly shuts everything down. This can include things such as:

  • ⬥ a hand-crank radio or other similar device for listening to the news
  • ⬥ food
  • ⬥ drinkable water
  • ⬥ warm clothing, and
  • ⬥ some means of communication such as a cell phone or two-way radio

If anyone in your home is taking a long-term medication, you might also want to stock up on essential medications.

7. Insulate any pipes that are susceptible

During a winter storm, temperatures can plummet, very quickly. Unprotected pipes below or around your home may suffer as a result, particularly if they are subjected to frigid temperatures outside of an insulated home. 

This could result in frozen pipes and significant water damage. Insulate exposed pipes throughout the house to protect them from the cold temps. 

8. Inspect your smoke and CO detectors

During a winter storm, homes frequently remain tightly closed. Unfortunately, the result is an increase in accidental fire deaths and carbon monoxide poisoning deaths during intense winter storms. 

Check that your smoke and CO detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries on hand, because they can literally save lives. 

9. Buy plenty of ice melt

You’ll probably need a method for melting the ice that forms on driveways, paths, patios, and sidewalks after the ice storm passes.

Whether you choose salt, chemicals or old fashioned sand, prevent slips and falls by having these ice management solutions on hand.

Note: Use salt and similar substances with extreme caution because excessive amounts can contaminate the soil, weaken cement, and endanger pets.

Check emergency plans

10. Create a family emergency communication plan

Even if you charge your phones before the storm, cell reception might still be unreliable, so make sure you and your family have a plan for how you’ll communicate in an emergency. Choose a distant contact who can help you get back in touch with everyone if you get separated, and be sure to memorize or write down important family phone numbers.

Prepare your home

11.  Stock your pantry with food

It’s crucial to make sure you have a sufficient supply of food because it’s important to stay inside and avoid traveling during a winter storm. 

Many non-perishable items should be in your pantry so that you won’t have to worry about anything spoiling if you lose power. 

Aim to have enough food on hand to last at least three days. Before the storm hits, it’s a good idea to stock up on foods like crackers, granola bars, soups in cans, hot cocoa, instant coffee, peanut butter, honey, bread, and grains (such as barley, rice or oats). 

Don’t forget to purchase some fresh vegetables as well as a variety of fruits that don’t require refrigeration, like oranges, apples, and bananas.

And, if you have pets, make sure you have enough on hand for them too.

 12. Purchase bottled water

In case your pipes freeze and prevent you from accessing tap water, make sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand. You might need water to brush your teeth, wash your dishes, flush the toilet, or take a shower if your pipes should freeze. 

In advance of the storm, you can also fill up the bathtub, jugs, bottles, and other containers with water. Just make sure you have at least 3 gallons of water for each person living in your home, and don’t forget to provide for the pets as well.

During the Storm

Once the storm is underway, staying indoors is a priority. The best way to protect yourself and your family during a snowstorm is to stay indoors and monitor news and weather reports.

Finally, after the storm, check for any damage it may have caused, and clear walkways and driveways to eliminate the possibility of any accidents caused by debris.

How to Keep your Fireplace Safe this Winter

5 Home Improvement Projects to Do Before Winter Hits

Signs of Winter Storm Damage to Your Home