How can I Prepare for a Winter Storm?

Sherry Holetzky

Because a winter storm may emerge suddenly, it’s a good idea to make general preparations in advance. Being prepared for an emergency is the best position to be in, even if an emergency situation does not materialize. As the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Be sure to pay attention to forecasts especially weather warnings.

Manual can openers can come in handy if a winter storm knocks out power for an extended time.
Manual can openers can come in handy if a winter storm knocks out power for an extended time.

A winter storm can create various problems, including power outages. An ice storm is especially dangerous when it comes to problems with electrical service. The weight of ice on power lines can pull them down. Ice can also prevent emergency crews from making timely repairs.

It is important to keep a supply of warm clothing during winter.
It is important to keep a supply of warm clothing during winter.

Any type of winter storm can potentially cause power outages. Since many standard furnaces require electricity at least for the blower, you may find yourself without heat if the power supply is disrupted. A backup generator is a good investment, especially if you live an area that is prone to winter storms.

Drinking water should be readily available during a winter storm.
Drinking water should be readily available during a winter storm.

A snowstorm or a blizzard can also become an emergency. Such a winter storm can prevent people from getting out, not only for work or school, but also from reaching the grocery store, pharmacy, or other establishments where essentials are purchased. It’s wise to collect a good supply of non-perishable foods and drinking water to keep on hand in case of a winter storm. A flashlight, batteries, a weather radio, candles, and extra warm clothing and covers also make sense. Those who take regular medications should stock an extra refill of each one.

It is important to pay attention to forecasts in order to better prepare for weather advisories.
It is important to pay attention to forecasts in order to better prepare for weather advisories.

Something else that many people don’t take into consideration during a winter storm is the wind chill factor. The actual temperature may be very different from what it feels like outside when wind chill is added to the equation. It is best to judge the impact of the temperature with wind chill added. It doesn’t take long to get frostbite or hypothermia in extreme temperatures. Heed winter weather advisories and don’t go out unless you have to when the temperature or the wind chill is severe.

Hypothermia is a condition characterized by a drop in body temperature, usually due to exposure to cold weather.
Hypothermia is a condition characterized by a drop in body temperature, usually due to exposure to cold weather.

If you must go out, try not to venture too far from home or from another safe location. Getting stranded during a winter storm is very dangerous. Be sure to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, complete with blankets, snacks, and water. A flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, and a cell phone are also good to have, but it’s best to avoid the possibility of getting stranded during a winter storm in the first place, if possible.

Winter storm emergency kits often include water and food in case the two are not accessible after a blizzard or other heavy snowfall.
Winter storm emergency kits often include water and food in case the two are not accessible after a blizzard or other heavy snowfall.

Always dress for the worst during a winter storm. Don’t assume that you’ll only be out a few minutes. You might think you’ll be warm in your vehicle or at your destination. You might assume that you’ll only be outside for a brief period of time, but that may not be the case if unforeseen problems arise. Be sure your head, hands, and feet are well insulated during a winter storm. If you don’t wish to bundle up too heavily, at least bring along warm items in case you need them.

Travel should be avoided during a heavy winter storm.
Travel should be avoided during a heavy winter storm.
You should have a survival kit ready in case you get snowed in during a blizzard.
You should have a survival kit ready in case you get snowed in during a blizzard.
Proper clothing is essential if going out in bad weather.
Proper clothing is essential if going out in bad weather.
Flashlights may be useful during winter storms that cause power outages.
Flashlights may be useful during winter storms that cause power outages.
It's important to heed winter weather advisories and not venture out in a winter storm.
It's important to heed winter weather advisories and not venture out in a winter storm.
A gas-powered generator can supply a home with electricity in the case of downed power lines.
A gas-powered generator can supply a home with electricity in the case of downed power lines.
Having warm meals like soup on hand can help during a storm.
Having warm meals like soup on hand can help during a storm.
It's a good idea to have blankets on hand in case of a power outage during a winter storm.
It's a good idea to have blankets on hand in case of a power outage during a winter storm.
Having warm gloves is important when preparing for a winter storm.
Having warm gloves is important when preparing for a winter storm.
Photocopies of personal documents, like social security cards and passports, should be kept in an emergency kit.
Photocopies of personal documents, like social security cards and passports, should be kept in an emergency kit.
Warm drinks will come in handy during a winter storm.
Warm drinks will come in handy during a winter storm.

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