Hundreds of Americans get injured or even die each year because of exposure to cold, accidents caused by wintry roads, and fires from heaters. This piece of information alone should already drive you to prepare for snowstorms. Even if you don’t live where it snows, you may travel to somewhere that does.
We gathered comprehensive guidelines on preparing before and during a snowstorm to keep you and your loved ones safe throughout the winter season.
Types of Snow Storm Warnings
According to the Red Cross, there are four types of warnings for a snowstorm that you may hear over the radio, news, television, etc. and it is important for you to know the differences. These include:
- Winter Storm Outlook. A winter storm is possible in the following 2 to 5 days.
- Winter Weather Advisory. A winter storm is expected to cause inconveniences and may be dangerous.
- Winter Storm Watch. A winter storm may occur in the next 36 to 48 hours. People in the watch area are encouraged to review their winter storm plans and stay informed about the weather.
- Winter Storm Warning. This warning means the condition can be life-threatening. The severe winter storm may have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area need to take precautions instantly.
What to Do Before a Snow Storm
You can never be too prepared for a snowstorm. That is why we recommend you to get acquainted with these tips now to be safer and more comfortable during a blizzard.
Preparing the Family
- Create a household evacuation plan that is aligned with your community’s risk and response plans.
- If you have pets, bring them indoors. If you cannot, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and access to food and unfrozen water.
- You and your family need to prepare a 3-day supply of water, specifically 3 gallons per person, as well as meals that are easy to prepare.
- Purchase a weather radio so you can stay informed of the situation if power is cut off. Make sure it is battery-operated and that you have extra batteries.
- Ready some flashlights and candles. In case the power goes out, always use your flashlight first to avoid a house fire.
- You also need to prepare a lot of blankets. You’ll be needing them in case power goes off. It is also highly recommended for you to stay in the same room during this time.
- Purchase a high-quality shovel so you can dig yourself out after the storm even before help comes.
- Learn how to treat frostbite and hypothermia. You can print the guidelines so you won’t forget the right methods.
Preparing Your Home
- Clear rain gutters to allow water to flow away from your home since melting snow can build up if they are clogged with debris. Also, check your roof for leaks.
- Check if your home is properly insulated. Make sure your doors are caulked and weather-stripped to maintain the heat inside. You can also install storm windows or cover them with plastic for more insulation.
- Pieces of heating equipment are also necessary. This can include wood or coal-burning stoves, and electric or kerosene (if legal in your area) heaters. Remember that stoves should be properly vented and the ashes should be thrown out safely. Your electric space heaters should be certified by a testing laboratory and unplugged when not in use. Learn the correct fuel for your units and do it only outdoors when it’s cool.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms inside your house as poisoning is more likely to happen when people use alternative heat sources.
- Make sure you have fire extinguishers in your room and that everyone is equipped to use them. House fires are common during this season due to the common use of alternate heat sources.
Preparing Your Car
- Install snow tires that are of high-quality since they can help you drive safely on snowy and slippery roads.
- Check antifreeze levels in your car as well as the wipers. These can prevent troubles during months that involve snowstorms.
- Check your heater. If you were stuck in your car for a long time, you might freeze to death! A working heater can help prevent discomfort.
- Inspect your battery. Car battery capacities decrease in cold weather, so make sure the fluids and cables are still in good condition.
- Don’t hesitate to have all of these checked by a mechanic. After all, they know best about vehicles.
What to Do During a Snowstorm
Don’t assume that you’ll be safe for the snowstorm just because you made all the preparations before it. Here are some things for you to consider!
- Turn on every faucet if temperatures are extremely low. Although this may cost you more in your water bill, it will save you a lot of time if your pipes freeze. In the case of frozen pipes, use a hairdryer to warm them. If you do not have power, just wrap them in rags, pour them with hot water, and open all faucets. Try opening your kitchen sink cabinets for warmer water to circulate around the pipes.
- If the power goes out, put towels at the bottom of the door and everywhere else with gaps like windows. Dress in layers too in order to stay warm. Lightweight clothing in lots of layers is highly recommended.
- Eat a lot of food to produce more body heat.
- Unplug any unimportant electrical equipment to avoid a surge when the power comes back.
- Avoid driving, but if you really must, make sure that you account for more travel time. Slower traffic along the way is typical because of unplowed roads. You also need to drive slower than usual. The faster you go, the less reaction time you’ll have to handle your car skidding on ice.
- Always watch out for black ice or thin, transparent ice that blends in with the color of the pavement.
- In case you’re stuck in your car, call for help immediately. Getting out of the car as soon as possible will also prevent you from getting poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Brave the Blizzard!
Heavy snowfall at the wrong time can be a rude surprise especially if you don’t have the necessary supplies for preparation or cleanup. It can also be alarming if you and your other family members do not have an emergency plan for the snowstorm!
Don’t be caught off guard the next time a snowstorm happens in your location. Make sure you are always prepared ahead of time with the right goods, tools, and plans to brave the blizzard and get through it safely!