Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms and blizzards can bring severe cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. A winter storm can, knock out heat, power, communication services, and place older adults, young children, and sick individuals at greater risk. Our homes provide protection from the elements, but we still need to be diligent to keep our families safe during snowstorms. Create peace of mind for your family by following these winter storm safety guidelines to be ready before, during and after a nasty storm.
Getting Ready for the Storm
Prepare a Home Emergency Kit – Your winter storm safety kit should last at least three days in case of a power outage or other disaster. Include essential items like water, non-perishable foods, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and first-aid supplies. Add winter-specific items in the kit as well: sand for traction, snow shovels, salt or sand to melt ice, heating fuel such as dry wood if you have a fireplace, and extra clothing and blankets.
Develop a Disaster Preparedness Plan – Your winter storm safety plan will help your family know how to stay in contact, and where to meet if family members are separated. Designate a friend or relative who lives out of town to be your family emergency contact. Also, make sure your family is aware of the best evacuation routes and locations of fire extinguishers in the event of a fire.
Winterize Your Cars – If driving becomes necessary in a winter storm, try to avoid traveling long distances. Be prepared by installing winter tires, checking the brakes, battery and ignition system, antifreeze levels, heater, exhaust system, and lights. Also, keep the gas tank full to prevent the fuel line from freezing. If your car should break down, have an emergency kit ready for your vehicle, that includes at least a flashlight, blanket, snow/ice scraper, and sand or salt. This will ensure you stay safe and warm until someone can assist you.
Be Aware of Changing Weather – Weather conditions can fluctuate within a matter of hours. Keep track of the latest information from the National Weather Service through a NOAA Weather Radio or your local media.
Keep Sidewalks and Driveways Salted – Even during weather that fluctuates around freezing temperatures, ice is one of the biggest hazards when it comes to personal injury during the winter. But this can be easily prevented by salting exterior walking areas, such as porches, patios, outdoor steps, etc.
During the Storm
Stay Off the Roads – Snow can make roads slippery and reduce visibility, making it dangerous to drive. If you absolutely have to drive during a blizzard, proceed slowly and leave lots of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If at any point you can’t see what’s in front of you, pull over and wait until conditions become clearer. If your car gets stuck, stay inside and open the window slightly on the sheltered side (facing away from the wind) to allow some fresh air in. You can run your car’s engine for about 10 minutes every 30 minutes, but only if the exhaust system is not blocked with snow.
Avoid Going Outside in the Storm – But if it’s necessary, make sure to bundle up! Wear appropriate clothing: layers of lightweight clothes, water repellent outerwear, a hat, mittens, and a scarf.
Try to Not Overexert Yourself – Exhaustion will lower your immune system which can cause sickness and flu. If you’re shoveling snow, take breaks and lift smaller loads. Change wet clothes right away to prevent loss of body heat. When the weather is extreme, you are going to need your health in case of emergency.
Prevent Frostbite – In cases of cold temperature exposure, prevent frostbite by covering exposed skin. If you think you have frostbite, do not rub the affected area. If you’ve lost feeling in extremities, such as fingers and toes, seek shelter and medical help.
Prevent Hypothermia – This is another danger when exposed to low temperatures. Symptoms include drowsiness, shivering, incoherence and memory loss. People who are experiencing hypothermia must be warmed up immediately and treated by a doctor.
What to Do After a Snowstorm
- When it’s safe to venture outdoors, evaluate the condition of your house, keeping an eye out for storm damage, leaks, and other issues that require attention.
- To maintain home safety, keep heat pumps, dryer vents, furnace exhaust pipes, sump pumps, and water heater ventilation pipes and electrical meters clear of snow and ice buildup.
- Stay away from power lines and avoid driving on roads with fallen debris.
- Check on friends and neighbors, especially any that are elderly, disabled or live alone.
- Stay alert for flooding potential once the snow and ice start to melt, and take appropriate precautions to secure your property.
- Restock your emergency kit so you’re prepared in the event of another weather emergency.
Property Damage from Winter Storms
You prepped for the storm. You took every precaution and followed all emergency procedures. But, sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, the unexpected happens. A winter storm can potentially be very devastating for a home. But don’t worry, if your home incurs any structural or water damage, Xtreme Home Improvement is ready to help you tackle any problems and get your family back to enjoying the winter season. Our professionals are both licensed and experienced to provide emergency damage restoration services for homes of all sizes.