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16 Severe Weather Hacks Everyone Should Know

April 21, 2015

severe weather hacks

Wicked weather can happen at any time and in any place. Every season brings its set of potential emergencies that can arise. Do you know what to do if you lose power? Or if a tornado touches down in your neighborhood? How would you keep warm in the middle of winter without heat? Keep the following emergency preparedness hacks in mind to help protect your family in all types of unexpected weather.

Power Outages

The largest power outage in American history occurred in August of 2003 when 55 million people in the northeastern part of the U.S. and Canada were without power. This outage was caused by a mere computer malfunction.

Power Outage Hacks

1. Turn a can of cooking oil into a candle in an emergency. Just place a string or piece of cotton into the middle of a can of cooking oil and light it! This trick also works with lard.

2. Make a freezer detector with a mason jar and water. Fill the mason jar partially full of water and freeze it on its side. Once frozen, place the jar in your freezer standing upright. If the water melts to the bottom during or after a power outage, that is an indicator that the food in your freezer should not be eaten. 


3. A full deep freezefreezer stays colder longer. Keep milk jugs filled three-fourths of the way with water in your freezer to fill the empty air space. They will help keep your food cold longer if your power goes out.

4. If you lose power during the summer, you may be forced to open windows and doors for cool air. This can let in pesky mosquitoes, especially at night. In a bind, mosquito bites can be soothed with mint toothpaste or numbing products meant for teething babies.

5. Keep cool without air conditioning.  It’s a good idea in the summer to fill up empty two-liters with water and keep them in your freezer. If the power goes out, you can place one frozen two-liter in front of a battery operated fan and sit directly in front of it for a DIY air conditioner.


Tornado Alley, where tornadoes are the most common, starts in Texas and ends in North Dakota.

Tornado Hack

6. Put on a bicycle or horseback riding helmet to protect against flying debris. This extra layer of protection could help prevent head injuries during a tornado.


Storms cause the most damage when they linger in one place for an extended period. They are considered “severe” if they produce hail with a diameter of 1 inch, have winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or if they form a tornado.

Thunderstorm Hacks

7. Dogs and thunderstorms are sometimes not a good mix, but it might not be for the reason you think! Static electricity can build up in their fur. Rub a dryer sheet over your dog’s fur to help alleviate the static and calm him or her down.

8. If you run out of AA batteries for flashlights or other electronics, you can convert AAA batteries with a ball of foil. Just insert a ball of foil between the negative end of the AAA battery and the device to generate power.


Since the 1900s, 2 billion people have been affected by droughts. The severity of droughts has been getting worse each year.

Drought Hacks

9. Don’t waste water while you are waiting for your shower to warm up! Fill buckets with the extra water that would otherwise go down the drain. This water can be used to water plants and wash dishes in case of emergency.

10. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more water is used each day to flush toilets than any other activity at home.  Save water by placing a brick within the toilet tank. This will expel less water during each flush.  



Any time there is a blizzard in the U.S., on average two and a half million people are affected by it. The record for the highest number of blizzards in one year is 27, which occurred during the winter of 1996-1997.

Blizzard Hacks

11. A mixture of one part water to three parts white distilled vinegar will help keep frost off windows during winter.

12. If you happen to lose power during a blizzard, keep warm by snuggling up to your pets! They produce great body heat, and you will be keeping them warm as well.

13. Place bubble wrap over your windows and doors to help keep the heat inside the house.



Floods cause about $6 billion worth of damage in the U.S. each year.

Flood Hacks

14. If your access to clean water has been shut off, you can put ice cubes from your freezer into a thermos to save them. They will melt slowly and eventually you will have extra clean water if you happen to run out.

15. If you get caught in your car in deep water, you can use the car seat’s headrest to break the window to escape.


Any Natural Disasters

There is no better hack for severe weather than to be prepared! Find out how to put together your very own emergency kit for any situation.

16. Make an Emergency Kit


Emergency Essentials for the Family

This type of kit should be stored in a large area, such as a cabinet or storage space in your house. A family emergency kit should include one gallon of water per person per day, a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener, a whistle, maps of your area, extra money, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, copies of important documents, sanitation items, a week’s worth of medication, and your Farm Bureau agent’s number.   


Emergency Essentials for Your Pets

It’s important to take care of your pets during an emergency. Include bottled waters, a portable water dish, an extra bag of food, a food dish, any medications, a towel, a toy and a leash. All of this can be saved in a plastic tote container.


Emergency Essentials for the Car

Your car kit should include inexpensive, non-clumping cat litter for added traction if you get caught in ice or snow, jumper cables, an emergency blanket, a first aid kit and a flashlight.


Emergency Essentials for the Office

In the event of a major natural disaster, it is important to be prepared at the office as well. Your office kit should include a flashlight, bottles of water, a weather radio, glow sticks, a small first aid kit, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes.


Weather Hacks Aren’t the Only Thing You Need  

Are you and your family prepared for wicked weather? Take our quiz to test your knowledge of wicked weather preparedness, and contact your Farm Bureau Financial Services agent for a free SuperCheck to ensure you have the right coverage for your family and property should dangerous weather arrive at your front door.