Weather has always been unpredictable, but recent weather patterns have only made it more so. Your winter preparedness should provide for the real possibility of getting snowed in, even if your area historically does not receive much precipitation.
A single winter storm can derail normal life, piling several feet of snow on roads, literally imprisoning you for anywhere between a few days to even weeks. Power outages may add to the trouble. And just when you think things can’t get any worse, some medical emergency might crop up.
1. Check your snow busters
Check your regular equipment for dealing with the snow in your walkway and drive, and get them out of storage well before it arrives. Snow shovels and plenty of rock salt and or other chemical de-icing compounds are a must, as you cannot depend on an electrically operated snow blower if there’s a power outage. Make sure you have plenty of fuel in stock if you’re using a gas-powered one. These machines need to be serviced well in advance, too.
2. Do a bit of cleaning around the house
The roof and gutters should be cleared of dead leaves and accumulated debris to prevent seepage and backup of water that can damage the roofing and the walls. If tree branches are growing over the roof, check for risk of breakage, and do a bit of proactive pruning. Get loose roof tiles and other potential weak points fixed.
3. Check the waterlines
All exposed pipes and faucets, including the lawn watering system, should be drained of water to avoid pipe bursts and leaks due to frost damage. Make sure that the internal network of water pipes is well-insulated.
4. Inspect the heating system
Get certified technicians to check your heating system and get the required repairs done now. You don’t want to be in a long queue of homeowners needing their attention in the height of winter.
5. Get air leaks fixed
Prevent icicle formation and melt water dripping by identifying air leaks and getting them fixed before you get snowed in. Add weather-stripping around doors and apply caulk to reduce the gap around windows.
6. Stock enough food supplies to sustain your family
Easy availability of food all year has made Americans slack on storage. It’s time to take stock of what you have, and what you need, for surviving a week or two without stepping out of the house, if need be. Buy and keep food stuffs that can be used right out of the cans, in case you have to go without refrigeration and cooking for a few days.
Here’s a brief list of what you can stock and use in the absence of power:
- Breakfast cereals
- Canned soups
- Baked beans
- Beef jerky
- Dry food bars
- Evaporated milk
- Fresh fruit
- Dried fruits and nuts
- Ready-to-eat snacks
Have enough disposable plates and cups to eat and drink from, in case you can’t use the dishwasher. Also, don’t forget about pets. Pets have special needs, and you should take them into account while preparing for winter. Have plenty of pet food, and a few emergency veterinary drugs for your pet. Also, have plenty of diapers and baby formula/food for the youngest members of your family.
7. Stock water and beverages
You should be prepared for disruptions of supplies any time. Ensure that there’s plenty of drinking water in store. Melting the snow for drinking purposes should be your last option. Factor in at least a gallon of water for each person in the family. Whole fruit juices and herbal tea can meet some of your fluid requirement, so have plenty of them in stock, too.
8. Check on medical supplies
Provide for the exigency of not having access to medical help or supplies. Have a first-aid kit and emergency drugs on hand. Equipment to check blood pressure and blood sugar should have spare batteries.
9. Buy battery-powered lights and radios
All your electrical appliances go silent without power. The handiest alternatives are battery-powered devices.
That includes flash lights, a radio to receive weather broadcasts and cell phones with fully charged power banks.
10. Have plenty of warm clothing
Efficient air-conditioning in our homes has made us very complacent about changes in weather. However, in the absence of room heating, every member of the family would need blankets, jackets, mittens and warm headgear.
11. Consider alternative heat
You may need to use portable space heaters or fireplaces to keep warm, and a gas-operated stove and grill for cooking. Or, in an extreme case, you could install a temporary wood-burning stove. During winter, it’s essential to consider alternative forms of heat.
12. Fill up the fuel tanks
Even if you’re planning on traveling during foul weather, it pays to be prepared. Rock salt, a bag of sand, a shovel and tire chains should be part of the equipment you keep in the car (assuming chains are allowed in your state). Blankets, cans of water and a portable stove can save your life during emergencies. Have a few flares handy so that a rescue team can locate you in case you get stranded.
Just because your area has not received much snow or ice in the last 10 years doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Every year in America, towns and cities in “warmer states” are slammed with a winter storm they weren’t expecting. Never take anything for granted and always, always be prepared.
What winter survival tips would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below: