Are You Ready for Winter Storms?
February is notorious for severe winter storms along the east coast.
A winter storm can range from freezing rain and ice, to moderate snowfall over a few hours, to a blizzard that lasts for days. Many winter storms are accompanied by high winds and dangerously low temperatures. These storms can also cause significant power outages that last for an extended period of time. Roads and walkways often become extremely dangerous or impassable, causing closures of critical community services such as public transportation, child care, health programs, and schools. Death can occur from exposure to the elements, dangerous road conditions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other issues. Follow these smart tips to prepare your family, home, and vehicle before extreme winter weather strikes:
Prepare your home:
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
- Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
- Create an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
- Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- If you have a wood burning fireplace, store extra wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat. Also, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
- Have extra blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter coats on hand in case the power is out for a period of time.
- Make sure you have a cell phone with an emergency charging option.
- If you or a family member depends on electricity to operate medical equipment, put alternate arrangements in place in case your power goes out for an extended period of time.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
- Fill a gallon container with water and place them in the freezer to help keep food cold.
- Keep rock salt or an environmentally safe product on hand to melt ice on walkways.
Prepare your vehicle:
- Fully winterize your vehicle: Have a mechanic check your antifreeze level, brakes, heater and defroster, tires, and windshield wipers to ensure they are in good shape.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full.
- Invest in an emergency kit for your car. In addition to the basic components, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction, and jumper cables.
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it’s important to create a communication plan in advance. Decide how you will contact one another and what each person will be responsible for in case of an emergency. When winter storms approach, be sure to bring your pets inside and check on elderly or disabled neighbors.