By Amy DeYoung
Updated Nov 30, 2022
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.