Sunday, January 22, 2017

Handy Tips to Help You Prepare for Winter Storms

Handy Tips to Help You Prepare for Winter Storms
By Christine H.

Some winter weather is magical and beautiful, but a winter storm warning can quickly turn into a nightmare. The tricky thing about winter storms is that most most of their danger is indirect… people die of exposure or hypothermia because they underestimate the storm, or winter driving conditions cause deaths and accidents. Additionally, lots of property damage is sustained during the course of a winter storm. Protect yourself, your house, and your family by following some smart precautions this winter:

Have a Well-Stocked House

The most important part of preparing for the possibility of a winter storm is to stock up your house. It makes the difference between a disaster and a cozy evening or two at home. Before a big storm, shelves at the store go empty all the time. So it’s best to be ahead of the curve and keep your house perpetually stocked for storms.

Some people are insanely good at keeping extra disaster essentials always on hand, with extra pantries for food storage and closets-ful of hurricane lamps and extra blankets. Others like to keep their life simple and only have enough possessions to pack in the car. But everyone should recognize the need for extra storage. So here are some easy tips to make it happen even for the earliest beginner:

  • Always have a few extra cans of your favorite soup on hand.
  • Keep easy shelf-stable high-energy foods around, like granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, and muesli.
  • Invest in an easy camp stove. That way, even if the power or gas goes out, you can still have a hot meal or tea.
  • Keep a few gallons of water per person in the pantry. Even if you don’t rotate it that often, it’s better than nothing in a pinch.

Don’t forget non-food essentials. Toilet paper, feminine hygiene items, and medications are all terrible to do without in a storm situation. And then there are emergency essentials, like candles, flashlights, multi-purpose tools, duct tape, and a first aid kit. Don’t forget extra blankets and cold-weather clothes, as well as rock salt or ice melt for the walkways.

Make Your Commute Easier

Most winter storms will be inconvenient, but they won’t shut everything down. You’ll still be able to get from place to place and the power stays on, but going out and about is scarier. Poor visibility, icy conditions, and slushy streets all contribute to a horrible commute and huge spikes in traffic accidents. Snow is great, until you have to drive in it.

You can make things better by taking some precautions. First of all, make your car ready for winter. Give it a tune-up, check the windshield wipers, and give yourself winter tires. All of these fixes will make it easier to drive in adverse conditions. For more ideas on how to prep your car for winter, check out this handy article. You should also have a winter emergency kit in your car, complete with extra blankets, kitty litter to help your tires get traction if they need it, and maybe sandbags to weigh down a light car. Have food and water on hand, as well as booster cables and an emergency flare.

Another way to make a winter commute easier is by keeping your car well-shielded from the elements when it’s parked at home. Most of us have had experience prowling around the neighborhood just so that our car would warm up enough that we could thaw out the windshield wipers from their icy cocoons and get them working before getting onto the freeway. An insulated garage is the best fix for this, and there are lots of ways that you can increase the insulation in your garage easily. This article has some great tips.
The last thing you can do to make your commute easier is to sign up for weather alerts on your phone. This will let you know when conditions are at their worst, and help you plan around the worst of the storm to get where you need to go.

The final word on the subject is to avoid driving through a storm when possible. If you just need to go to the corner store, just take a walk. Walking through a heavy snowfall is a much better experience than driving (as long as there’s not a lot of wind, that is).

Know How to Prepare Your House

If you live in an area with harsh winters, you probably already take certain precautions each winter. However, if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, here are some actions to take to prepare your house for winter:

  • Install storm-safe shutters, and insulate your windows with heavy insulating curtains and/or a plastic seal to keep freezing temperatures out.
  • If you go out of town, keep the thermostat at 55 degrees in your home to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year so that you can light a fire safely.
  • Know how to use your backup heating options safely. Charcoal stoves and heating appliances from the kitchen can contribute to carbon dioxide poisoning and other hazards.
  • Add weatherstripping around your doors and any other area that cold might leak in.

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