How to prepare for a winter storm?
Winter storms can bring large amounts of snow, extreme cold, high winds, freezing rain, and ice. They can cause downed trees, make roads or walkways incredibly dangerous, and cause power outages that can last for several days. Public transportation can be affected, and schools and childcare facilities might be closed. On top of all this, winter storms increase the risks of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks.
That’s why, with winter storm season in full swing, it’s important to know how to keep yourself, your family, and your home safe. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself before that brutal storm hits.
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1. Stock Your Food Pantry
Because it’s important to stay indoors and avoid traveling during a winter storm, it’s really important to make sure you are fully stocked up on food. Your pantry should include many non-perishable items so that if you lose power, you won’t have to worry about any of it spoiling. On average, aim to have enough food for at least three days.
Some good foods to have on hand before the storm starts include crackers, granola bars, canned goods, soups, hot cocoa, a and instant coffee, peanut butter, honey, bread, and grains (such as barley, rice,e or oats). Also be sure to pick up a variety of fruits that don’t need to be refrigerated — such as oranges, apples,s or bananas — as well as some fresh veggies.
If you have pets, don’t forget to pick up food for them too.
2. Buy Bottled Water
Make sure you have at plenty of bottled water in case your pipes freeze, cutting off your access to tap water. If your pipes should freeze, you might also need water for brushing your teeth, doing dishes, flushing the toilet,s or bathing. You can also fill up the bathtub, jugs, bottles,s and other containers with water ahead of the storm.
Just make sure you have a minimum of 3 gallons of water for each person in your household — and don’t forget to have enough for the pets.
3. Fill Your Prescriptions and Pick Up Hygiene Items
Make sure you have all your prescription medication prescriptions filled so that you have enough on hand for at least three days, maybe even a week to be on the safe side. This will save you from having to make a run to the pharmacy when the roads are bad.
You’ll also want to stock up on any hygiene items that you might need, including diapers, toilet paper, tampons,s and toothpaste. It can also be helpful to pick up moisttoiletss in case water is in short supply.
4. Build An Emergency Kit
Ahead of the storm, make sure you have easy access to anything that you might need in an emergency. It’s best to waterproof some of your emergency kit items so anything which could be ruined by water fit in airtight, waterproof plastic bags. It’s also a good idea to put everything in your kit into one or two easy-to-go suitcases, in case you need to leave in a hurry.
Your emergency kit should include things like first aid items, a battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio, non-prescription medications (such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, etc), flashlights, extra batteries, a whistle to signal for help, local maps, cash or traveler’s checks, copies of important family documents (such as insurance policies and identification), a fire extinguisher, matches in a waterproof container, candles, blankets, ts, and sleeping bags.
You will also most likely need garbage bags and a manual can opener.
If you have pets, you’ll also want to make sure you have leashes, harnesses, es, and pet carriers easily accessible.
5. Stock up on Ice Melt and Check Your Tools
Ice melt salt tends to go quickly at local stores right before a storm, so be sure to start stocking up early so that you have plenty for after the storm. You’ll want to have enough so you can shovel and salt all your outdoor stairs, sto, ops, and walkways right after the storm before the snow has time to melt and then turn to ice when the temperature drops.
You’ll want to make sure you have a good snow shovel (or two) before the storm. Make sure they’re not too worn or cracked since that will only make your life harder. You’ll also want to make sure your tool kit is up-to-date and easy to find because you might need a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities in a hurry.
6. Prepare For A Power Blackout
Charge your cell phones ahead of the storm and make sure you have some portable battery backups on hand as well, in case the power goes out. It’s also not a bad idea to have flashlights or battery-powered lights handy throughout the house so you don’t have to stumble around looking for them.
If you live in an area where power outages are frequent, you might want to consider getting a generator, either a portable one or a home standby model. If you do have a portable one, make sure you have gasoline or propane before the storm so that you can run it when needed and as long as necessary. Be sure to run portable models outside and away from windows — never inside or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spas,ces, or basements.
7. Make An Emergency Communication Plan With Family
Even if you charge your cell phones ahead of the storm, you might not always have cell reception during the storm so make sure you make a plan with your family on how you can connect in an emergency.
Be sure to know or write down important family phone numbers and designate an out-of-town contact who can help you reconnect with everyone if you get separated.
8. Protect Your Water Pipes
If temperatures are expected to drop to 28 degrees or below for 4 hours or more, you should take precautions to protect your water pipes. Not only will a frozen pipe cut off your running water supply, but because water expands when it freezes it can cause metal or plastic pipes to bu.t. This is one of the greatest and costliest damages from winter storms.
Pipes that run in unheated interior areas (such as those in basements, crawlspaces, kitchen cabinets, garages, gates, and attics) or against exterior walls are particularly susceptible to freezing.
To help prevent frozen pipes, the et cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes because running water — even when just a trickle — is less likely to freeze. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate the air plumbing. Add pipe insulation to any pipes that are particularly prone to freezing. Do your best to keep temperatures inside your home no lower than 55°F.
9. Seal Your Windows and Doors
Windows and doors can be drafty, allowing cold air in and warm air out. That’s why it’s a good idea to seal any windows with an insulation kit that you can pick up at any hardware store. You can also pick up weather stripping at the storeseal your front door better door.
You can also pick up insulated blinds to help keep the warm air inside the house.
10. Check or Install New Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Be sure to test your smand carbon monoxide detectors and ensure sure they’re still working. If they aren’t already battery-powered or battery-backed, it’s best to replace ace with detectors that work during a power ltor to keep your family safe.
11. Prepare Your Yard
Before the storm hits, it’s best to take a walk around your yard and look for any tree branches that might be in a position to fall on your home. If you can, you will want to trim those back to prevent them from doing damage to your home during the storm — or call a professional to do the trimming for you.
If any tree branches are in the vicinity of power lines, you’ll need to call a professional or the utility to trim or cut those back to help minimize the risk of a power outage.
If you haven’t already, mulch your gardens to protect plants that you don’t want to freeze.
12. Ready Your Car
Before that winter storm hits, make sure your car has a wintune-upe up to check things like your antifreeze levels, battery, ignition system, exhaust system, heater, li,ghts, and oil.
Then, prep your car with things you might need should the blizzard trap you in it. You’ll want to make sure you have blankets, water, chains, jumper cables, ice scrapers, mabottledttle water, warm clothes, non-perishable sn, acks, and a first aid kit in your car. It’s also not a bad idea to have some sand or cat litter on hand to give your tires better traction on snow or ice if you get stuck.
13. Stay Informed
Listen to your NOAA weather radio for alerts and warnings about hazards. Check the forecast consistently online or on your phone. Sign up for local emergency alerts and notifications.
Know how to turn off your utilities, such as gas lines, in an emergency when you need to.
Do your research on local shelters and warming stations close in your area before the storm hits, and make a plan for where and how to get there, if you need to leave your house in an emergency.
Also, be sure you know the signs of hypothermia and frost, bite and be ready to check on neighbors, especially if they’re older adults or have young children who are more at risk in extreme cold.
Hypothermia exhibits itself as uncontrollable shivering, memory loss or disorientation, slurred speech, drowsy, ness, and exhaustion. If you detect any of these symptoms, move the person affected to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, wrap the person in blankets and give the person warm beverages if they are conscious. Focus on warming the center of their body first. Take their temperature. If it’s below 95 degrees, call 911 and hem medical attention immediately.
Frostbite presents itself as loss of feeling and white, pale or waxy skin on the extremities, such as fingers, toes, earlobes, face, and the tip of a nose. If you detect these symptoms, move the person to a warm place, use body heat to warm and cover the exposed skin but do not rub the skin because this could damage tissue. Get the victim to a doctor as soon as possible.
14. Be Careful
Be careful to not overexert yourself because many heart attacks are brought on by overexertion from shoveling or clearing snow during and after storms.
Most importantly, stay indoors and off the roads. Only travel if it is an emergency.
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