How to Prepare for a Major Snowstorm This Winter
At the mere mention of an impending snowstorm, a large portion of the population drops everything they’re doing and runs to the store for bread and milk. It doesn’t matter if they don’t drink milk and are on a gluten-free diet: Those are considered essential supplies and if you have enough bread and milk, you can survive anything.
That might be a bit of an embellishment, but on the other hand, there are plenty of folks who take a winter storm as it comes and whatever happens, happens.
The problem with that approach is if those folks get stranded or finds their home in distress, then they pull emergency services from other people in potentially more dire circumstances. When it comes to winter storms, we’re all in it together. The more you can prepare, the better off you’ll be able to ride it out. Here’s what you need to put on your to-do checklist:
1. Survey the Exterior of Your Home
The moment the leaves stop falling off the trees, you should be up on a ladder cleaning any debris from your rain gutters. A blockage there can cause icicles and leaks into your home. While you’ve got the ladder out, it would be a good idea to give your roof the once-over. This is vital in roofs that have passed their 20th anniversary.
You also want to inspect the proximity of trees to your home and to nearby power lines. A bruising ice storm can bring down those limbs right onto your home. No tree should be higher than your home, and any branch touching your home needs to be cut back.
As for the power line issue, if one of your trees encroaches on a power line, call the power company. It probably deploys tree cutters for this very reason. You don’t want to get close to those surges.
2. Survey the Interior of Your Home
During a storm or a chilly night, the goal is to keep the warm air inside your home. That means inspecting all your doors and windows for any air leaks. Weather stripping is the answer but if it is old, it needs to be replaced.
The other major culprit for damage in a winter storm are your pipes. They can freeze up and burst, causing a major flood. Just think of dealing with leaking water in freezing temperatures – not a fun scenario. The fix is to insulate any exposed pipes. Most often, these will be running up from the basement.
You should also look at the entry points into the house to make sure the pipes are cozy with foam wrap or temperature-control tape. When the weather becomes freezing, allowing a little drip from the faucet can help keep the water flowing and prevent that freeze.
3. Prepare for the Worst
The worst-case scenario in a winter storm is a power outage. Even though you’ve done all you can to protect the power lines around your home, not everyone will be as diligent. When power goes out during a winter storm, there is no telling when it can come back on. It might be a few hours or a few days. Safety experts recommend having enough water and nonperishable food on hand for three days. That breaks down to 1 gallon of water per person per day, and food that can be eaten right out of a can without cooking.
You can provide a workaround for power loss by renting a portable generator. A 1,000-watt or more generator is usually sufficient for most homeowners’ needs. This is one of those items that is best procured before the first snowflake falls. Once you bring it home, you should hook it up to see how it operates and how you’re going to draw power from it.
There are also solar-powered chargers for cellphones. That might just become the most popular gadget on the block!
If your family members are avid campers, then you’ll probably be ahead of the game in terms of supplies like hand-crank lights and propane stoves. Just be sure those things are working properly. Knowing your family is safe and you’ve got what you need is really the only way to enjoy a winter storm.
Megan Wild is a residential construction expert who enjoys flipping old homes. When she’s not scouring her neighborhood for her next project, you can find her tweeting home inspiration at @Megan_Wild.