Here in New England, we never know when a storm is going to hit, especially since the weather can change rapidly this time of year. According to the Northeast States Emergency Consortium, there are three main types of winter storms – blizzards, ice storms, and Nor’easters. Risks include power outages, high winds that cause fallen trees, white-out conditions, coastal flooding, icy and dangerous conditions, and extreme cold.
The goal is to be ready for every situation long before any of these storms hit. Here are some common-sense tips that will help you prepare for those difficult winter storms.
Get ready for snow removal
You’ll want to get ready for snow removal long before the first storm even hits. In the summer, start by preparing your driveway and walkways. Make sure there are no cracks or holes and that the surface is level. If the surface is grooved, uneven, or filled with holes, it makes snow removal even harder.
You’ll also want to keep on hand everything you need to remove large quantities of snow, like shovels, ice, sand, and a snow blower with plenty of gas. Store these in accessible places. Don’t make the mistake of storing these items in a shed, for example, because what if you are unable to access the shed due to large snowfall? These items should be in your garage or maybe even somewhere inside the house.
Be prepared for power outages
Power outages in winter can be dangerous, especially if your home is left without heat or water. You should purchase a backup power supply, such as a generator. This is especially important if someone in your household relies on electrically powered medical equipment, or if you need power to have running water, as is the case in households that have well water. You should also have 8-12 hours of backup battery power for your monitored alarm system to notify if the alarm is triggered. Also, make sure you have plenty of the proper fuel on hand to power the generator, in case you are snowed in and can’t make it to the local home improvement store or gas station when a storm hits.
Have a plan to stay warm
Regardless of whether or not you have a backup generator, you should have a plan to stay warm. Make sure you have plenty of firewood in case you need to light the fireplace or wood stove. Be sure to stock plenty of warm blankets throughout the house. You may also want to buy a portable generator that can power an electric heater.
Aside from stocking supplies, you should also get your home prepared to stay warm. Make sure your home is well insulated and free from drafts. Collect your family to the southernmost room in the house, which is typically the warmest. You should also have the proper carbon monoxide monitors in place, as some of these alternate heating methods could result in increased carbon monoxide levels in your home.
Protect your pipes from freezing
When the temperature drops, this puts your pipes at risk of freezing, even if you’re not experiencing a power outage. This needs to be taken care of immediately because when pipes freeze, they could burst and cause flooding. To prevent this from happening we recommend having monitoring for low temp and flood to make sure you’re alerted of any possibility of flooding, even when you’re not home.
Keep a hair dryer on hand in case you need to defrost a pipe or two. Contact a plumber to help you unfreeze any stubborn pipes and to help you implement solutions, such as wrapping the affected pipes with special insulation, which can prevent the pipes from freezing in the first place.
Create an emergency plan
Finally, you don’t want to start the winter without a family emergency plan. Are you prepared if you need to shelter in place during a large storm? Review with your family how to operate the generator, where all the supplies are stored, such as wood, blankets, and flashlights, and make sure you have plenty of water and emergency food on hand.
Also, make sure family members know whom to call during specific emergency situations, such as the electric company to report downed power lines, a plumber if you have frozen pipes, someone to help with snow removal, and the numbers to your local emergency service providers.
Preparation is the key to staying safe during extreme winter weather because you don’t want to be caught by surprise when bad weather hits. Keep inventory of your supplies and review your safety plan periodically to ensure that everyone in your household knows what to do in case of a blizzard or other extreme winter storm.
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