Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather: Winter Storms

It is important to be prepared for extreme weather scenarios. We’ve prepared a Checklist for Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather that includes a list of things to keep on hand, packed up and ready at all times for any natural disaster situation. When it comes to winter storms, here is what you should know about them and how to prepare for them.

Prepare home for a blizzard.

During the winter months, there are many different storm warnings you may face. Depending on where you live in the United States, winter may bring freezing temperatures and cold weather precipitation including sleet, freezing rain, snow flurries, snow showers, snow squalls, blowing snow, and blizzards. Blizzards, which have winds over 35 mph are common in the upper Midwest, Great Plains and Northeast.

As you are watching the weather forecast, it’s helpful to know the different types of warnings.

  • Winter weather advisory: wintery weather is expected and may affect travel - exercise caution.
  • Winter storm watch: the conditions are right for a winter storm to hit in your area and snow, sleet or ice are possible - be prepared.
  • Winter storm warning: a storm with snow, sleet, or ice is expected in your area - take action!
  • Blizzard watch: strong winds, considerable falling or blowing snow and reduced visibility expected in the next 48 hours - be prepared.
  • Blizzard warning: strong winds, blinding snow, and extreme wind chill is expected - seek shelter. Now!

You should also be mindful of ice storm warnings, freezing rain advisories, freeze watches, freeze warnings, frost advisories, wind chill advisories and wind chill warnings.

Watch the forecast. Severe winter weather can get pretty serious. It can last long periods of time, and can bring about freezing rain, sleet, ice, freezing temperatures, large amounts of snow, sometimes immobilizing you for long periods of time. Power outages are very common during severe winter weather.

Winter Storm Supplies

So how do you prepare yourself and your home for winter weather? Have supplies necessary to get you through the storm. (Refer to our Emergency Supplies Kit Checklist) but also add the following to your supplies:

  • An alternative heat source (wood for a wood burning stove or propane for propane stoves) - power outages are common and travel is dangerous.
  • Fire extinguishers - fire becomes a concern when using alternative heat sources. Don’t use these items indoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, find fresh air and evacuate.
  • Snow shovels and salt - for melting ice on walkways and driveways. Make sure your snow removal equipment is serviced regularly.
  • Winter gear - including clothes, blankets, and other items on hand to keep you warm.
  • A manual thermometer - to be able to know temperature conditions during power outages.

Prepare home for winter storms.

Prepare Your Home for Winter Storms

Here is some advice for preparing your home for winter storms:

  • Have your home winterized before the storm hits.
  • Make sure your home has insulation in the attic, basement, walls and anywhere that may touch the outside elements for energy efficiency.
  • Ensure that your heating system, chimney and flue are serviced and cleaned each year prior to use to ensure they are working properly and safe to use. Avoid waiting until the cold is upon you to test out the heat.
  • Seal off your home to keep the cold out - caulk and weather-strip drafty doors and windows, place plastic on windows or install storm windows.
  • Check the roof for needed repairs to ensure that it can hold the weight of the snow. Remove dead trees or large branches near your home and clear the gutters.
  • Make sure your pipes are insulated. Your pipes can freeze and burst, causing huge issues within your home. In cases of bursting pipes, learn where the shut off valve is.
  • If necessary, let the water drip during very low temperatures to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Assuring that your home is prepared to endure the storm will allow you to stay safely inside. The frost can be very dangerous so keep care of situations where you could endure frost or hypothermia. High winds and white-out snow conditions make it hard to even step outside. If the power is out for extended periods of time, also have a plan in mind for evacuation while making sure your home is safe for your return.

Want more home advice? Nestiny is a great place for home education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all of your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a free Ready Report that is personalized based upon the information that you entered. This report will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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