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Tips for preparing for a winter storm

January 26, 2015

It is never too late to prepare for a winter storm. No matter how late into the season it is, winter storms can arrive with little warning. Just because many parts of the country have experienced a mild winter doesn't mean they are out of the clear. For instance, even though it is the end of January, the Northeast is due to experience what could be a historic winter storm.

Make sure your home is prepared for a winter storm.

“This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference.

De Blasio, as well as officials from all over the Northeast, advised residents to prepare for the worst. While the cities will do what they can to keep streets clean and public transportation running, it is important for individuals to prepare as well. For instance, a Home Deport in Manhattan sold twice as many snow shovels as it normally would this time of year, and Charlestown Ace Hardware in Boston sold out of ice-melting pellets.

But there is more to protecting yourself from a winter storm than snow shovels and ice pellets. If a storm is bad enough, chances are you might not be able to leave your home for a few days. To keep yourself healthy and warm through a winter storm, make sure you are prepared.

  • Food:  It is important to have at least three days of food and water. Keeping canned foods on hand is wise because they will stay intact regardless of how long the storm lasts. Additionally, purchase bottled water when stocking your supplies. While your faucet should have no problem, if the temperatures drop too low you don't want to risk your pipes freezing and being stranded for any amount of time.
  • Safety:  Depending on the severity of the storm, there is the risk of it knocking out the home's power. Make sure you have battery-powered supplies, such as flashlights and heaters. Also make sure your car is full of gas. It in unlikely that you would be able to leave during a winter storm, but having a full tank of gas will keep your tank from freezing as well. Whether you are going to use your car or not, you at least want to have the option. Make sure your antifreeze is full as well. Preparing safety measures also means making sure you have enough medical supplies, such as bandages and other first-aid kit necessities.
  • Warmth:  Seal up any drafts in your home around your windows and doors. If you have water pipes in your base cabinets, open the doors so some of the heat from your system will reach it. You can also wrap the pipes with newspaper or additional insulation you may have in the garage. Also, use the other doors in your home the same way. For instance, if there is a room that isn't well-insulated, you should keep its door closed. This will not only keep drafts from getting into the house, but keep warmth from escaping. Another thing is to make sure you have enough dry firewood for your fireplace. Additionally, all the blankets and sweaters should be easily accessible. As winter has been in full swing for a while now, these items are probably taken care of—but when a winter storm rolls through, it can't hurt to be overly cautious.

When it comes to preparing for a winter storm, don't leave anything out. It is not just about having the right type of home insurance to repair any damage the storm might do to your house or property, but about keeping yourself and your family safe while it is going on.