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House Method’s Winter Storm Checklist

Updated Mar 17, 2023

Updated Mar 17, 2023

Home > Blog > House Method’s Winter Storm Checklist

Nobody wants to hear that the National Weather Service has released a warning of life-threatening or severe winter storms. However, practicing emergency preparedness for winter storms and blizzards can give you peace of mind. 

To help, consider our winter storm checklist to keep you and your loved ones safe before a blizzard or winter storm strikes.

What Should You Do Before a Winter Storm Strikes?

technician inspecting a home fireplace
Image Source: Canva

The first step you should take before a winter storm strikes is to ensure that you and your family have access to the most important things: food, water, and shelter (heat). 

Prepare Your Home

Start by inspecting your home for any air or water leaks. Use caulking and weather strips to fill in gaps in entry points, walkways, or windows to keep warm air inside your home. We also recommend insulating your water lines and pipes, which may freeze during cold weather. 

Is your attic or roof letting warm air escape your home? Take an afternoon and repair or replace any roof shingles. Then, insulate your attic and walls to keep the warm air trapped inside. Take insulating your home a step further by installing thermal-pane windows or covering the inside of your windows with plastic or newspaper. 

Inspect Your Heat Sources

Before winter, have a professional inspect your fireplace or woodstove. Many homeowners use fireplaces and woodstoves as emergency heaters. However, carbon monoxide poisoning and fires can start if these appliances are not maintained properly. 

A technician can inspect your chimney or flue to ensure it’s running correctly, so this isn’t a problem for you. 

Double-check that you have at least one fire extinguisher near your heat source in case of a fire. Examine your fire extinguisher to see if the pin is in place and if the fire extinguisher is still good. Fire extinguishers don’t necessarily expire, but they have a 10 to 12-year life expectancy and should be replaced every 10 years. 

We recommend installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector for safety reasons. Place these near the heat source and always have one in your bedroom so that you’re alerted if a fire starts or carbon monoxide, a deadly, odorless gas, leaks from an appliance. 

Lastly, check that you have plenty of fuel for your emergency heat sources and extra batteries. If you experience a power outage, you may use more batteries and fuel than you normally would. 

Gather Emergency Supplies

Heavy snowfall and freezing rain can go on for days, making emergency supplies crucial for your family’s survival and comfort. 

Here are the emergency supplies you need: 

  • Water: Have at least three days’ worth of water on hand. Bottled water is ideal for easy consumption. 
  • Medications: Have a backup supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications ready. The Red Cross recommends having at least seven days’ worth of prescription medication, along with extra medical items like glasses, contact lenses, syringes, a cane, and hearing aids with extra batteries. 
  • Baby supplies (baby food, diapers, formulas, bottles)
  • Toilet paper
  • Thick blankets
  • Rock salt 
  • Plenty of warm clothing, including sweaters, jackets, mittens, thick socks, and other layers
  • Nonperishable food items
  • Emergency heating equipment
  • A first aid kit
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Pet supplies (pet food, collar, leash bowls, IDs)
  • Snow shovel
  • Extra batteries
  • Flashlights and candles (have more than one lighter or matches on hand)
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio (preferably the NOAA Weather Radio for important updates)
  • Extra chargers

Prepare Your Car

Naturally, it’s best to avoid driving during a winter storm watch. However, preparing your car could save your life if you’re caught out in freezing temperatures or when the storm hits. 

Follow these tips to prepare your car for winter storms: 

  • Have your car inspected and regularly maintained before cold weather hits. Ask the mechanic to pay special attention to your antifreeze, wipers, windshield washer fluid, ignition system, hazard lights, heater, exhaust system, brakes, and defroster.
  • Purchase tire chains for your car. 
  • Keep an emergency car kit in your vehicle, including items like a windshield scraper, a small broom, a sack of sand for creating traction, matches, warm clothing, food, water, and a brightly colored cloth (red is preferred) for your car’s antenna. 
  • Have a cellphone with an extra car charger and batteries on hand. 
  • Keep your gas tank full at all times so you’re ready in an emergency. 
  • Include a first aid kit in case of injury. 

Create a Family Emergency Communication Plan

During a winter storm, you may be cut off from your loved ones, neighbors, and friends while cellular phone signals are down and travel is impossible. 

Create a plan for how you and your family will reconnect before the storm hits. 

Remember that cellphone lines may be down, so a landline phone may be necessary to contact them. Write down significant phone numbers in case you can’t access them through your cell phone. 

We also recommend designating an out-of-town contact who can touch base with your family if you can’t get ahold of them.

Closing Thoughts

Winter storms and freezing temperatures are often underestimated for how dangerous they are because many injuries or deaths that occur are indirectly related to the storm. For example, carbon monoxide poisoning, frostbite, hypothermia, and heart attacks from overexertion while clearing snow are all side effects of a winter storm. 

Take these dangers to heart and protect your family by gathering necessary supplies, having appliance inspections performed early, and making a family emergency communication plan now.

electrical trucks in a winter storm
Image Source: Canva

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