Did the recent blizzard catch you a bit unprepared? Here’s a quick checklist of common storm dangers to help make sure you’re ready next time.
Loss of Power
No electricity means no refrigeration, no cooking, and no heat. Consider purchasing either a permanent or portable generator for emergency use. If the worst case scenario does happen and your house is no longer safe to stay in, you’ll want to know the location of the closest emergency shelter. Before our next big storm hits, go online or text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) for shelter locations. Add them to your list of emergency, family, and neighborhood contacts and keep it with you just in case.
Carbon Monoxide and Fires
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the highest cause of death during power failures. If the power does go out, don’t use anything as a heat or cooking source that may emit carbon monoxide indoors or cause a fire. Replace older batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test each of them. In case there is a fire, make sure fire extinguishers are fully charged and that everyone knows how to use them properly.
If you lose heat, run faucets at a slow trickle to help keep water from freezing and rupturing your pipes. Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors can also help circulate warmer air and keep pipes from freezing. Mark your home’s main water shut off valve so that it’s easy to locate in the snow if a pipe does burst.
Thick, heavy snow and an old roof is not a good mix, so make sure that any leaks or breaches are tended to by a qualified contractor. Clear gutters to avoid overflow and cut away tree branches that could fall on and damage your roof during a storm.
If you smell gas, quickly open a window and get everyone out of the house right away. Once your family is clear, turn off the outside main gas valve and call the gas company. Remember to never attempt to turn the gas back on yourself. Leave it to a qualified professional.
High winds can easily send objects through unprotected windows. Be sure to remove small outside planters, tools, trash cans and other loose items that may pose a threat. Stock up on heavy-duty, cold temp-safe clear tape and plastic sheeting to temporarily mend broken windows until after the storm.
Melting snow around your house’s foundation can end up as a flood in your basement. Make sure you have adequate drainage to move water away from your home and consider purchasing a battery backup sump pump in case you lose power.
Loss of Communications
Have a family emergency plan in place in case cell phone service, landlines, or power goes down while someone is out.
Fuel Supply Delays
Top off on heating fuel for the house, spare gasoline for the generator, and fuel for your car. Supply chains for gasoline and heating fuel can be delayed by days or even weeks after a major storm.
Running Out of Basic Supplies
There’s a reason that grocery store shelves get picked clean before a major storm. Expect the worst, hope for the best, and stock up on the things you and your family need to stay healthy and safe during a severe weather emergency.
- Water: Flooding can ruin your water supply. Make sure to have at least 3 quarts of bottled water per day/per person.
- Food: Have a few days worth of non-perishable food like cereal and canned food/stews/soups (with a non-electric can opener handy), and anything else that doesn’t need to be cooked and won’t go bad without refrigeration. Don’t forget about pet food and baby formula.
- Warm Clothing and Blankets: If you lose power and heat while snowed in, you’ll need to keep warm until help arrives or the power comes back on.
- Personal Hygiene: Running out of toilet paper, diapers or garbage bags during a blizzard can turn an otherwise uneventful storm into a miserable slog. Stock up.
- Home Emergency Kit: Put together an emergency bag with things like a first aid kit, medications, spare contact lenses/glasses, and matches.
- Flashlights: Make sure to have plenty of flashlights and backup batteries. Better yet, invest in battery-free, hand-crank rechargeable LED lanterns.
- Radio: Purchase a hand-crank rechargeable radio to stay updated on weather-related news and alerts.