The time to prepare for winter storms — and all other emergencies, for that matter — is before disaster strikes. Stocking up on emergency supplies like food, water and first aid items, as well as supplies for communication and heating, helps ensure you’ll remain safe and as comfortable as possible during winter storms. Whether you usually only experience light snow a few times a year or you expect to be hit by heavy blizzards, we’ve come up with a list of the top items you need to prepare for winter storms.
Winter Storm Disaster Preparedness
When you live in areas that frequently experience blizzards, it’s important to know what different winter storm advisories mean. Winter Storm Outlook means storm conditions are possible within the next 2 to 5 days. Winter Weather Advisory means the weather is not life threatening, but it’s expected to cause significant inconveniences. A Winter Storm Watch means storm conditions are possible within 12 to 48 hours. A Winter Storm Warning should not be ignored: severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Anyone in the area of a winter storm warning should get to safety as soon as possible.
Blizzard Survival Kit
Food and Water: Ideally you should put together a winter survival kit for your home, office and car. The most basic supplies necessary include a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and a 3-day supply of food. If you can, stock up on even more long-term, non-perishable food in case you’re stuck for more than 3 days. You should leave your taps slightly open so they continuously drip and don’t freeze. If your pipes freeze or break, you will need your emergency water. In extreme cases, snow can be melted for water – however, even boiling the water will not get rid of certain chemicals that are found in snow.
Heating Supplies: Next, you’ll need quality heating equipment and sufficient fuel. When the power goes out, you’ll be forced to rely on different heating methods. Wood or gas fireplaces and portable space heaters are both great options. Heat packs are easy to use and do well at keeping your hands warm, but they are not ideal for keeping you warm throughout the storms. Even though flashlights and candles are not good for heat, they are perfect for light sources, so be sure to stock up on them, too. Don’t forget the extra batteries, and remember to keep a close eye on your candles!
You should never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices that produce carbon monoxide inside. If you don’t already have them, it’s a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home. If your CO alarm sound does sound, you need to move to an open door or window, or better yet go outside if you can, call for help and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
First Aid Supplies: For easy preparation, you can buy pre-prepared home emergency kits, office emergency kits and even school emergency kits that include basic first aid supplies. If you want to prepare your own kit, make sure you stock up on essential items like bandages and gauze, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter painkillers and any prescription medication you need regularly.
Communication Supplies: When the power goes out, the cell phone reception goes down and you’re stuck inside, it’s important to be able to keep up with what’s happening around you. A solar or battery powered radio is an ideal way to hear weather updates and keep up with the news.
Additional Items: A shovel is always helpful when the snow gets high, and rock salt is perfect for melting ice on walkways. If you have a baby or a pet, make sure you stock up on extra food and supplies for them. If you have older kids, make sure you have board games or some other forms of entertainment that don’t require power.
Have your own tips for preparing for winter storms? We’d love to hear them — share your thoughts with us in the comments below!