Chapter 3: Preparing Your Home & Stocking Up Supplies
Keep a stock of food and water. Winter storms can trap you at home behind snow drifts and may knock out the utilities you rely on to cook a meal. Stock up on no-prep food with a long shelf life such as peanut butter, cereal, bread, crackers, canned vegetables, granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, and protein bars.
You should also consider some practical emergency food and water options. The Pantry Prepper Pack will have you covered with food and water for up to 72 miles plus allow you to filter up 1,000 liters of drinking water. Simple packs like this tucked away in your pantry are the extra peace of mind you need that even if you’re trapped at home for a few days without electricity you can keep your family fed and hydrated.
Check your medical supplies. Make sure you have a first aid kit, personal medications, and any technology that you might need for medical purposes set aside and ready for at least 72 hours, possibly longer if your area is known for winter storms. Some examples of critical needs you may forget about while emergency planning include oxygen tanks, mobility scooters and pacemakers on top of your daily medications.
Be sure to have extra toiletries. Be sure to have toilet paper, diapers, and feminine hygiene products available. No need to clear out every store shelf, but making sure you don’t run low is a smart idea. Also keep in mind you’ll want options to use without water like wipes or hand sanitizer.
Check your attic’s insulation. The main cause of ice damming is the heat coming from your roof. Adding an extra layer of insulation to the attic or replacing it with better insulation entirely can lessen your chances of getting ice dams in your gutters.
Bonus, better insulation will also hold heat inside the home longer if you go without power. With cutting wind and low temperatures, you’ll want to make sure the heat in your home stays there as long as possible.
Trim branches. Be sure to trim any trees that hang over your home or car. When covered in heavy ice or snow, branches can easily snap, falling on your home, car, or your family. Keeping them trimmed up greatly reduces this risk.
Check windows and doors. Ensure that areas around doors and windows are properly sealed to prevent cool air from coming in. Temporary solutions can include closing your blinds and laying a towel at the foot of your door, but it’s best to invest in higher quality seals.
Prepare your pipes. Wrap your pipes with pipe insulation to prevent them bursting, particularly if they are within an external wall of your home or a poorly insulated basement. A broken pipe during a deep freeze can cause massive problems, damage, and leave you without running water for several days.
Clean your gutters. This is important to do every fall, ideally multiple times a year. Rid your gutters of fallen leaves and branches. If your gutters are full then there is a higher chance of them getting clogged and creating a dangerous ice dam.
Clean your chimney. Schedule a cleaning each year in the summer months to have your chimney cleaned. Especially if you don’t use your chimney often you’ll want to avoid any fires that come from debris getting crowded in. Similarly, if you’re in a situation without power and you are using your chimney for the first time, do your very best to clear it ahead of time, open the flue before starting a fire, and always make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Shovel snow safely. When winter storms hit, people need to clear their walkways and driveways.
- Only shovel fresh, powdery snow. Avoid shoveling wet compacted snow.
- Push the snow instead of lifting it
- If you do lift the snow, only fill the shovel half way to avoid overextension
Prepare for Power outages. Winter storms can sometimes leave communities without power for an extended period of time. Consider portable solar powered chargers for phones and tablets, and a generator to help keep power to things like your refrigerator. Flashlights are critical, solar chargers make things easier, and having some candles with matches is highly recommended.
Stay safe from Carbon Monoxide. If you use a gas powered generator or stove, keep it outdoors and well away from your home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Add a carbon monoxide detector to each level of your home. Every year deaths during winter storms happen after the fact due to CO2 poisoning.