Most of the leaves are off the trees and snow has begun to fly in parts of the country. That’s right winter is on it’s way which means you need to prepare for winter weather. Winter storms can have serious impacts and preparation is the best way to avoid bad situations when the snow flies.
Extreme cold, blinding snow, strong winds, and icing from freezing rain and sleet can knock out power, cripple transportation and kill people exposed and unprepared for winter. Traffic accidents increase as roads ice up, visibility drops and conditions deteriorate as the storm takes hold.
In some cases winter storms can paralyze large areas of the country for days. There are things that you can do to prepare for Old Man Winter’s worst.
For starters you should know what the watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service mean for where you are as these can vary from location to location. Common products to understand include:
Winter Storm Watch
This is issued when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance.
Winter Storm Warning
This is issued when a winter storm is producing or is expected to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.
This is issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.
During most significant winter storms it is highly recommended to stay indoors and avoid driving but if you must then vehicle preparation is imperative.
Winter Driving and Vehicle Preparedness
Before you leave on a road trip, make sure all of the following are in safe operating condition:
- Windshield Wiper Fluid
- Full Tank of Gas
- Tire Tread
Make sure you have the following items in your vehicle in case of an emergency:
- Flares/reflectors to signal for help and warn other motorists
- Sturdy scraper/snow brush/snow shovel to clear snow
- Battery or crank-powered radio to listen to emergency broadcasts
- Flashlight with extra batteries or crank-powered flashlight
- Survival blanket
- Extra set of clothes, including coat, hat, mittens, boots, etc.
- Gallon jug of water and nonperishable food
- First Aid Kit and essential medications
- Tire chains and tow strap
- Non-clumping kitty litter/sand for traction
- Jumper cables
In addition to this make sure you check on changing weather conditions that could impact your trip and alter your travel plans when necessary.
If you’re trapped in a vehicle there are a few tips to remember.
- Remain in the vehicle.
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes every hour.
- Clear any snow from the exhaust pipe to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Move around to maintain heat.
- Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Turn on the inside light at night so rescue crews can find you.
Prepare your home
- This can take some time but is well worth the effort for the winter months.
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts)
- Shut off outside water valves.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Remove tree branches that could fall and cause damage.
- Insulate water pipes where needed in your home.
- Make sure your roof can withstand heavy snow accumulations.
- During cold spells, open cabinet doors open to allow warm air to get to pipes in kitchens and bathrooms and trickle faucets to protect pipes.
Stock your home with needed winter weather items.
- Rock salt or ice melt products.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Stock firewood or fill up on heating fuel.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- Make accommodations for pets and outside animals. Bring pets inside during winter storms.
Of course these are just a few things to think about as we push further and further into fall. Keep watching Weather Nation for all your weather needs and as winter storms approach.