Winter Storm Safety

Winter storms can damage the most basic of services, such as heating or power. Ice or heavy snow can shut down roads, bringing communities to a standstill. Depending on the volume of snow or ice that has accumulated, this damage can take hours or days to be repaired.

Various household items can be of the utmost importance when a winter storm strikes. Make sure the following are added to your emergency kit.

  • Rock salt and Sand: Should walkways become frozen, rock salt can melt the ice and make it safe to walk upon. Sand can be placed on frozen or snowed-over areas to improve traction for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
  • Snow shovel: One of the most reliable ways of removing snow from your driveway, walkway, yard or road. Know that snow is easiest to shovel when it is fresh and powdery, and be sure to rest frequently; it is not uncommon for heart attacks or other injury to occur from being overworked while shoveling snow.
  • Winter clothing and blankets: Sometimes the best way to keep warm is also one of the simplest. Bundle up. It is more efficient to wear several thin layers of clothing than one thick layer. Be sure to cover as much skin as possible and stay dry.
  • Weather/survival radio: Weather conditions may change; it is important to stay informed to better prepare for upcoming events. Extra food and water: If your home is snowed in or the roads are frozen over, it will be difficult to find any additional food other than what is already in your home. Make sure you have at least a week’s supply of non-perishable food in your home, as well as a hand-operated can opener. Clean and fill empty containers with as much drinking water as they can hold; a filled bathtub can serve as an emergency water reservoir.
  • Firewood and matches: In the event that your home loses power or heating, it is important to have an adequate supply of fuel for cooking or heating. Remember that smoke should be vented to the outside to prevent other health hazards and that a fire extinguisher should be kept ready should the fire grow out of control.

Make a checklist of things to do to prepare for a coming winter storm.

  • Ensure that weather-stripping on doors and windows are secure.
  • Let your faucets drip and insulate pipes with whatever is available; even newspaper or plastic can make a difference. Know how to shut off your home’s water valves should a pipe burst.
  • Clear rain gutters and repair any roof leaks to ease the effects of runoff from melting snow.
  • Charge up all rechargeable electronics. An old cell phone can serve as a much-needed flash light during an emergency. Keep extra batteries on hand for items that can’t be recharged.

Remember that generators or other gasoline, propane, charcoal or natural gas powered devices create poisonous carbon monoxide gas and should never be located in an enclosed space. Melting snow or ice can cause generators or other electric devices to become wet and increases the risk of electric shock.

Should your home lose power, unplug any appliances that may turn on when power is restored, such as TV’s, space heater, computers, and refrigerators. Otherwise, when power is restored, your circuits may be overloaded causing damage to your home and posing a risk of fire through overheating. Leave the switch for your porch light in the “on” position so that maintenance crews will be able to determine whether or not your power has been restored.