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How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Last Updated: January 18, 2022

How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

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If you live in an area that is prone to winter weather, then you know the challenges associated with a winter storm conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “winter storms can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads.”

According to Insurance Information Institute, “in the first half of 2021, winter storms caused a record $15.1 billion in insured losses.” To protect yourself, your family, and your property, it is important that you are prepared for whatever weather winter might bring.

When a winter storm warning is sprung, pay attention to it. A winter weather advisory from a winter storm watch should never be ignored. Hazardous winter weather is nothing to take lightly or the significant inconveniences they pose.

If you are anticipating a severe winter weather such as heavy snow, extreme cold, or even freezing rain, it is important that you prepare your home and car for the weather. Winter storm plans are incredibly important, as the harsh weather can be life threatening.

As mentioned, pay attention to weather reports, such as NOAA Weather Radio. Never ignore any winter storm outlook. Once a storm is on the horizon, its time to prepare.

Weatherproof Your Home

Not only will weatherproofing your home protect it from the elements during the winter storm season, but it also will help lower your utility bills. Weatherproofing ensures that your home is properly sealed and that the winter weather conditions won’t affect the interior conditions of your home.

You can weatherproof your home in just a few simple steps:

An infographic explaining how to prepare for a winter storm.
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1. Install Storm Windows

These provide an additional layer of protection when harsh, winter storms come around. Check and make sure yours are installed correctly.

2. Add Honeycomb Cellular Shades

Honeycomb cellular shades help keep drafts and cold air out of your home. Remember to open them during the day to allow sunlight to warm the house but lower them at night when the temperatures cool off.

3. Use Door Draft Stoppers

Now door draft stoppers are exactly what they sound like. You can buy these at most utility or hardware stores, or you could even try making them yourself.

4. Fix Leaks!

Leaks around your doors or windows are a sneaky way for cold air and freezing drizzle to enter your house. Make sure to repair roof leaks as well.

A trick to find window or door leaks is to hold a candle up to the frame and move it around. If the flame flickers, then there’s a draft coming in. Patch up the leak with some caulk, and you should be good to go.

5. Add Insulation

A lot of your interior heat can be lost through uninsulated — or under-insulated — basements, attics, and crawl spaces.

6. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat regulates your house’s temperature and can save you money on your utility bills.

7. Weather Strip

Weather stripping your house involves sealing gaps in and around your home. This will save you money on your electric bills and keep you feeling warm and cozy. Make sure to weather strip doors and windows of your home!

Stock Up on Supplies

If you’re expecting the arrival of a harsh winter storm, it is smart to stock up on food, supplies, and other necessities. Just in case you’re unable to make it to the store, you will want to have an emergency supply kit of extra food and supplies on hand.

We recommend stocking up on the following:

• Rice

• Dried beans

• Trail mix

• Canned vegetables and soups

• Peanut Butter and Jelly

• Bottled water, tea, and coffee

• Instant oatmeal

• Packaged foods, like macaroni and cheese

• Pet food and/or baby formula

• Toilet paper

• An emergency cell phone charger

• Candles

• Batteries

• Toothbrushes and toothpaste

• Laundry detergent

• A first aid kit

• Medications

Consider Portable Power

Snow storms are often cause for a winter power outage, especially in rural and tree-laden areas. For this reason, we recommend investing in portable electricity when you lose power in your household.

Generators can be used to keep your devices charged, power heaters, and run your refrigerators in case of a power emergency. However, make sure you have sufficient heating fuel before the storm hits.

Clean Your Chimneys

A chimney can be a lifesaver if an approaching winter storm threatens to take your power. However, in order to ensure that it works properly, you should be cleaning it about once a year.

Additionally, be sure to stock up on fuel (wood, fire starter, lighters, newspapers, etc.) before the storm rolls in.

Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

Water expands as it freezes, which can put extreme pressure on whatever it is that is containing it. (In this case, we’re referring to your water pipes.)

Pipes freeze if they are exposed to severe cold (like outdoor hose bibs or swimming pool hook-ups), located in unheated areas (like basements and crawl spaces), or run against exterior walls with little-to-no pipe insulation.

To protect your pipes from an approaching snowstorm, follow the American Red Cross’s directions for protecting and preventing frozen pipes.

Prepare Your Car

According to the National Weather Service, over 5,000 people are killed each year due to weather-related vehicle crashes. That being said, there are a few ways to prepare your car for an approaching winter storm.

Before driving in the snow, check to make sure that all of your car’s fluid levels are full and that the lights, brakes, heater, and windshield wipers are working properly. Drive slowly and make sure your gas tank is always near full. Also, install good winter tires if necessary.

We also recommend keeping a winter storm survival kit in your car that includes:

• Mobile phone, charger, and batteries

• Blankets and/or sleeping bag

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• First-aid kit

• Non-perishable food

• Extra warm clothing

• Tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels

• Waterproof matches

• Shovel

• Windshield scraper and brush

• Tool kit

• Tow rope

• Jumper cables

• Candles and matches

• Water container

• Compass and/or road maps

How to Prepare Yourself and Your Family

If you are anticipating a winter storm, it is important to make a plan and talk with your family about what to do. Keeping your family safe is a top priority.

You should invest in sufficient snow removal equipment and keep rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways, sidewalks, and driveways. Cat litter is also great for generating temperature traction.

We also recommend keeping a stash of disaster supplies ready in case the power goes out. This should include things like flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, and a one-week supply of food and water.

Also, be wary of carbon monoxide poisoning . Carbon monoxide can be produced when overusing your home heating systems. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a tragic and preventable statistic during severe winter storms. Keep carbon monoxide detectors hands, just to be safe.

Your family should also develop an emergency communication plan in case individuals get separated from one another (if children at school, for example). Also, it is incredibly important to remember to bring your pets indoors.

During the Snow Storm

Once the winter storm hits, it is essential for you to stay inside and stay warm. Besides putting you at risk for hypothermia, heavy snow decreases visibility and makes traveling incredibly dangerous.

It is for this reason why we advise staying off the roads during a snowstorm. Also, even with preventative measures, roads can become incredibly slippery during snowstorms. Both decreased visibility and slippery roads are major causes of weather-related vehicle accidents. However, if you absolutely must drive, proceed with caution and pull over if visibility gets too bad.

If your car gets stuck in the snow, make sure to stay inside the car and utilize your winter survival kit (see above). We recommend cracking a window (one that faces away from the wind) to let some fresh air in, and you can safely run your car’s engine for about 10 minutes every half-hour.

If you must venture outside your house on foot, always ensure that you are able to find your way home. Economical advises tying a rope to your front door and carrying it with you as you walk, that way you can always find your way back. Once outside, avoid overexerting yourself, as this can lead to hyperthermia and other dangerous medical issues.

After the Snow Storm

After the winter storm has passed, it is safe to venture out to shovel and melt snow with ice melt. However, it is important to be cautious! According to The Washington Post, about 11,500 people are seriously injured each year from snow-shoveling-related activities.

To stay safe while shoveling, make sure to abide by the following tips:

Stay warm

Bundling up for snow shoveling is essential for keeping your body temperature warm and preventing hypothermia. Make sure to wear layers to conserve body heat. Engage in light movement, such as jumping jacks or walking in place, to keep your muscles warm.

After you've layered with warm clothes, a snow shovel becomes your next focus.

Push the Snow, Don’t Lift

Try pushing the snow with your shovel instead of lifting it upwards. This will reduce the strain on your body.

Lighten Your Load

Use a lightweight plastic shovel, as opposed to a metal one, to decrease the overall weight being lifted.

Take Breaks!

As with any form of exercise, it is important to monitor your body and take breaks when needed. We recommend taking breaks every 20-30 minutes, especially if the snow that you’re shoveling is wet.

Stay Hydrated

Although it seems like one of those dreaded wintertime chores, shoveling snow is also a form of exercise! That being said, make sure you are drinking plenty of water.

Renting a Dumpster for Winter Storm Prevention

If your winter storm prevention requires disposal of old or damaged items — things like roof shingles, old insulation, chimney debris, or broken windows — consider renting a roll off dumpster to get rid of them.

Here at Discount Dumpster, we have a wide variety of dumpster sizes that are perfect for any sized project. Give us a call today, and our expert team will gladly help you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t let the next winter storm catch you by surprise! Take these preventative measures to prepare yourself, your family, your home, and your car for the upcoming winter weather. Trust us, this isn’t the sort of thing you want to worry about last minute.

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