Step one: Prepare now! Ideally, you’ll be preparing for a snowstorm before winter starts spitting even its mildest venom in your direction. Spending a few days preparing in the fall can save you a major headache when those nasty snowstorms pop in to visit.
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Buy Supplies for Your Home Emergency Kit
If you have the time and ability to evacuate from a snowstorm, go for it! Most people who are at risk experience snowstorms on an almost annual basis, and are more accustomed to sheltering in place, so this guide will focus on that.
When the snowstorm hits, you might be stuck in your home for the better part of a week. Buying supplies is the first and most essential step. Depending on your storage space and family size, you may want extra supplies, but you should purchase enough to keep your family comfortable for seven days.
Restocking your home and emergency kit could take some time after the storm as well. Stores may have low stock due to pre-storm panic buying and limited truck access.
Be sure to stock up on:
- Canned food or emergency food and extra water
- Can opener (if you don’t already have one)
- Bottled water
- Flashlights (at least one per person)
- Prescribed Medication
- First Aid Kit
- Electric Heater (in case you still have electricity) or
- An Indoor-Safe Heater
- Propane (for the indoor-safe heater)
- Hand warmers (in case the power goes out)
- Camp stove
- Blankets and sleeping bags
- Thermal Blankets
- Toilet paper
- Power bank for your devices
Do lots of push-ups while you’re snowed in. You’ll need the extra upper body strength to dig yourself out once it’s time to reemerge.
Stock Your Vehicle Emergency Kit
Although we don’t recommend going on joyrides in unsafe conditions, there are all kinds of reasons you might need your car during a snowstorm. Emergency services may be slow or unable to respond. If you have to venture out, make sure you are prepared to do so safely so you can reduce your chances of getting stuck in the storm.
Here’s a list of items you may need:
- Snow cables, chains, or tires
- Windshield de-icer or ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Extra gasoline
- Two changes of clothes
- Matches in a waterproof container
- A brightly colored (preferably red) bandana or piece of cloth to tie to the antenna
- Dry food (e.g. saltine biscuits, cashews, or protein bars)
- Power bank for your devices
- Sand or kitty litter to increase traction, in case your wheel gets stuck in the snow
- Newspaper for insulation
- Plastic bags for trash
Pack it up in a nice small case and place it in the trunk for the duration of winter. Make sure the duplicate items on these lists are kept in both your home and car–you’ll need them in both places!
Winterize Your Home
After your emergency kits are prepared, get these pesky chores out of the way to make sure your house doesn’t cave in during the big one. Remember to do these every year and try to finish them all by Thanksgiving.
- Ensure that your house and water pipes are well insulated. No weak spots!
- Check for branches near power lines and prune trees as needed. Snowfall can break limbs, and you don’t want to be the reason your block loses power.
- Do your chimney and furnace maintenance: check thermostats, clean vents, and replace filters.
- Seal any cracks along external walls.
- Cover your outdoor air conditioning unit.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Recharge or replace your fire extinguishers. You may need to use alternate heat sources which could release CO or cause fires.
- Clean out your rain gutters. It’s everyone’s favorite chore!
- Add new weatherstripping to doors and windows. Make sure your seals are tight.
- Remove water hoses from outdoor faucets.
- Buy salt and sand so you’re not caught among the panicky rabble before the storm. These will be in short supply afterward as well.
Now for the real learning! Come with me if you want to live.