As we quickly approach the coldest months, it's very important to be prepared for all kinds of potential extreme winter weather. Being ready can make all the difference in the world to your family and home. Here's a list of some very important steps to make sure YOU are ready if extreme conditions hit!
Before extreme weather hits, you should take the precaution of creating an emergency kit for your home. Some important things to add to this kit include:
Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
Sand to improve traction should your vehicle get stuck.
Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove if you have one.
Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
Download FEMA’s Be Smart. Know Your Alerts and Warnings for a summary of notifications at: www.ready.gov/prepare. Free smart phone apps, such as those available from FEMA and the American Red Cross, provide information about finding shelters, providing first aid, and seeking assistance for recovery.
Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:
Windshield scraper and small broom
Battery powered radio
Extra hats, socks and mittens
First aid kit with pocket knife
Tow chain or rope
Road salt and sand
Fluorescent distress flag
Winterize Your Home
Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
We hope that such measures only ever remain precautions. But in the case that you find yourself dealing with extreme weather conditions, we hope this list has helped you and your family to prepare! As always, we're happy to help!