Winter storms can be dangerous. When you know one is coming you want to be prepared so you can stay safe and warm. These tips will help you prepare for a winter storm.
This weekend a winter storm is predicted for Oklahoma and it looks like we may be dealing with snow and ice. Our power lines are above ground so that makes a lot of power outages.
When I was a kid in 2000 we had a major ice storm and my family was without power for a week. Our home was built by an electric so it was all electric so nothing worked. Thankfully we had a fireplace and a gas grill to help us get by.
We were well prepared but many weren’t had struggled. As I’m preparing for this possible winter storm I thought I’d share some tips for others as well. It’s so important to be prepared for things like this, you never know how long you could lose power or be stuck at home. People often get hurt because they aren’t prepared and have to go out when they shouldn’t.
Around here it seems like a run to a local dairy store called Braum’s and getting milk, bread, and eggs is the only real prepare work people do. If you want to make french toast you do want to have those things on hand but you should prepare a few other things as well.
How to Prepare for a Winter Storm
The first thing I want to say is to plan for at least a few more days than you think you could possibly be stuck at home and without power. We never thought we’d lose power for a week when we did. Winter weather can be hard to predict.
Preparing Days Before the Storm
- FEMA recommends you have a 3-day supply of food and water for your family. I’d recommend even more food if you live somewhere that roads may not be cleared that soon. Remember to choose food that is non-perishable and doesn’t require heat.
- Have at least a 3-day supply of all medicines your family needs. Don’t forget backup battery supplies for power-dependent devices.
- Have plenty of batteries on hand.
- Get an NOAA weather radio to be sure you can get weather alerts even if the power goes out.
- Get a snow shovel if you don’t have one. Regular shovels can mess up your driveway and don’t work well for snow.
- Have easy to find flashlights with fresh batteries and backup batteries.
- If you have a fireplace have your chimney cleaned and inspected. And have plenty of wood on hand.
- Also, if you have a fireplace consider getting some cast iron campfire pots and pans. This is one of the ways we cooked while we were snowed-in without power. It was so nice to have hot food.
- Make sure you have a lot of warm weather clothes clean and easy to find. You will need them if you go outside but also if you lose power you will need to be able to bundle up to stay warm. It’s also a good idea to have lots of clean blankets.
- Don’t forget your pets. Bring them in from bad weather and make sure they have a supply of food, water, and any meds they need. Also, have some blankets on hand for them. I have snow boots for my dog because she loves playing in the snow and that can hurt their feet. It’s also nice so snow doesn’t get tracked into the house.
- A grill can be a good way to cook, outside of course. We used ours a lot during the 2000 Ice Storm. My mom’s suggestion when I asked her was to make sure you are stocked up on gas if you have a gas grill. If you don’t have one you can get a camp stove. Just remember to use these outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups that are working. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning goes way up during a winter storm.
- Make sure you also have smoke detectors with battery backups, go ahead and test them if you haven’t recently.
- Have fire extinguishers in your home and know how to use them. Fires are more common during winter storms.
- Insulate your water pipes. You can also get heat tape for pipes that are exposed.
- Make sure the adults in the home know how to turn off your water in case of a water pipe bursting.
- Have an emergency plan. Have important numbers written down, in case your cell phone dies.
- Get some appliance thermometers so you can keep an eye on the temperature in your fridge and freezer if the power goes out. The freezer should be at or below 0 degrees and fridge should be at or below 40 degrees.
- Freeze containers of water. This can help keep food cold if you lose power and is also a good backup supply of drinking water if something happens to the water supply.
- Have coolers on hand if the power goes out, this can help you keep the items cold if it will be out for more than 4 hours.
- Get ice and gel packs ahead of time and put these in the freezer to use if needed.
- Never hurts to have some homemade hot chocolate mix on hand to warm you up!
Preparing the Day Before
- Charge your cell phones, laptops and any devices you may want to use.
- Double check flashlights and put them where you will need them if the power goes out.
- Check antifreeze in your car and fill the gas tank.
- Prepare any generators you have.
- Pull out some favorite board games to have ready to play if you lose power. Pick ones that aren’t too heavy with reading since you may be using flashlights and candles.
What to do During the Winter Storm
- When the temperatures are below 25 degrees drip a few faucets and open the cabinet doors where they pipes are to help them stay warm. You can also wrap them with pipe insulation or newspaper.
- Avoid driving. You don’t want to be the person that has to be rescued. Only drive if there is an emergency or you are sure the roads have been cleared.
- Do NOT use a generator, grill, camp stove, or charcoal-burning device inside or in any partially enclosed area.
- If the power goes out close off rooms, put towels at the bottom of doors with gaps and cover winders with blankets.
- Stay dry. If you get wet, put on dry clothes right away.
- Lay to stay warm. During the 2000 Ice Storm, I felt a bit like the kid on A Christmas Story when he couldn’t put his arms down but it helped me stay warm. If you are going outside put a waterproof layer on the outside.
- Use sleeping bags if you have them. They are great for helping keep you warm. That’s what we did when I was a kid. My brother, friend and I camped out in front of the fireplace in sleeping bags and blankets.
- Freeze refrigerated items like leftovers, meat, cheese, milk and anything you don’t need soon. This will keep them cold longer if the power goes out.
- If you lose power, keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A fridge keeps food for about 4 hours unopened and a full freezer will keep food cold for approximately 48 hours if full and 24 if half full with the door closed. Ice can help fill space and keep things cold longer. If any food is above 40 degrees for 2 or more hours discard it.
- Turn off all but one light and unplug important electronics in case of a power surge when power is restored.
- FEMA’s Winter Storm Guide
- FDA’s Food and Water Safety Guide
- Easy Ways to Winterize Your Home
- Winter Emergency Car Kit