How to Prepare Your Home for a Snowstorm
You may think of a snowstorm as a good excuse to stay inside and have a hot beverage, but snowstorms can be difficult or deadly if you are not prepared for them well in advance. The cold and snow can create hazards you may never have considered before. However, you can limit or avoid many of those hazards if you prepare your home for snowstorms ahead of time. Certain aspects of snowstorm preparedness, such as stocking up on fresh food and water, may be obvious. However, there are other steps you must take in order to guarantee that your family, pets and home get through snowstorms without any serious injuries or damage. Below is a list of steps to take before a snowstorm strikes, such as how to prepare your pipes and roof for the cold and weight associated with snowstorms, as well as how to ensure that your family will stay warm and safe.
Prepare Alternate Power and Heat Sources
A snowstorm can cause you to have a power outage in your home. When your power goes out, your home’s heating system may not work. Even if you have a gas-powered heating system, the ignition for it may be electric. It may be necessary for you to purchase a generator in order to keep your home heated during such instances. A generator can also help you to power other devices in your home, such as lights and a stove.
Other heat sources can also be used to heat your home during a snowstorm. Among them are wood- and coal-burning stoves, fireplaces and kerosene heaters. However, kerosene heaters may be illegal in your area. Check with your fire department to find out. If you have a wood- or coal-burning stove or fireplace, you must make sure that your chimneys are clean before the storm and only burn proper fuel sources. Stock up on wood or coal ahead of time to reduce the temptation to burn paper products, which can cause chimney fires.
Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detection and Fire Safety Devices
The use of space heaters, fireplaces and stoves during snowstorms can cause fires, as well as potentially lead to a buildup of invisible gases in your home. Therefore, prior to the storm, you must make sure that your smoke and gas detectors are in working order and that you have fire extinguishers on hand. Stock up on necessary batteries and purchase additional detectors.
Protect Your Plumbing
A hidden problem associated with snowstorms is that such storms cause major drops in temperature, which can lead to frozen plumbing. When your pipes freeze, they can also burst, causing flooding in your home. One way to protect your plumbing prior to a snowstorm is to open cabinets and allow faucets to run at a trickle. Exposure to warmer air and constantly running water will help to keep ice from building up. Another option is to wrap your pipes in special heat tape or pipe sleeves designed to prevent freezing. Remember to perform the same treatment for any pipes located in your garage as well.
Check Your Roof and Gutters Frequently
Debris in your gutters can easily cause ice dams to build up on your roof. The extra weight of the ice can lead to a partial or total collapse. Also, if the roof itself has any weak points, you may not notice problems during the snowstorm itself. When the snow thaws, however, the water may seep through into your attic or living space. Therefore, you must make sure you replace or repair your roof as needed before winter storms strike.
Insulate Windows and Doors
One of the best ways to reduce heat loss during a snowstorm is to cover the insides of your windows with plastic to add an extra barrier. Similarly, you can use caulk or weather stripping to insulate each door in your home. Depending on the expected severity of the impending storm, you may also need to use shutters or boards to protect your windows on the outside. Additionally, you may install storm doors for added safety and protection from the cold.
Prepare Essential Devices
If you are going to need any essential devices during the storm, such as flashlights or radios, prepare them well in advance. Charge all devices and purchase extra batteries for battery-operated machines. If you have any essential medical equipment, you may also need to purchase a generator in order to guarantee that the equipment will still function if power is lost. You will need to store gasoline for the generator.
If your cell phone signal goes out, remember that you do not need signal or Wi-Fi to call 911.
Customize Your First Aid Kit
You may already have a first aid kit with bandages and ointments in your home. However, you must customize that kit with items each of your family members may need if the snowstorm strands you for several days. Stock up on medications your family members and pets need prior to the storm. Place the first aid kit in an easily accessible place and make sure that each family member who is old enough to understand how to use it knows where to find it.