Winter storms can range in severity from a moderate snowfall for a few hours to a blinding blizzard that lasts for several days. Blizzards are severe winter storms that are a combination of blowing snow and winds (more than 35 mph) — often resulting in very low visibilities. Being prepared for a winter storm is critical, as strong winds paired with heavy snow accumulation can paralyze a city, strand motorists, stop the flow of supplies and disrupt emergency services. A dangerous winter storm can also cause street and interstate closures, loss of internet and overall power outages.
Blizzard Preparation 101
Preparing for a blizzard at home requires the right equipment. Keep your family and home safe with these key blizzard supplies:
- Shovels or a snow blower. Shovels are a necessary blizzard preparation tool if you need to dig your way out of your home. If you have a snow blower, make sure it’s filled with gas and fully functional.
- Groceries. It’s a good idea to have a three-day supply of water and food on hand in case your power is wiped out by a big winter storm. Also, make sure to grab some salt or sand for your driveway and sidewalk.
- Extra blankets and warm coats. As a blizzard safety precaution, make sure each family member has extra clothes or blankets to stay warm. You don’t want to be left in the cold if you lose power.
- Emergency radio and extra batteries. Prepare for a blizzard by getting an emergency radio and surplus batteries. Radios are affordable and readily available and will keep you updated on weather alerts and winter storm warnings.
- Car safety kit. Traveling during a blizzard is highly discouraged, but if you must, it’s vital to have a car safety kit with you. This kit should include things like extra blankets and warm clothing, a flashlight, a shovel, a windshield scraper, water and snacks. Even if you aren’t traveling during the storm, it’s a good idea to put together a car safety kit — weather can be unpredictable! In addition, plan ahead and winterize your car in case you need to be out during the storm.
How to Stay Safe During a Blizzard
Now that you’re properly equipped, you might be wondering what to do when the storm hits. We recommend the following safety tips for blizzards.
- Tune in to a weather radio station or other local news channels to stay updated on the winter storm.
- Bring your pets inside and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas.
- Keep the kids inside— a blizzard isn’t the time for snowball fights or sledding. Keep tablets and other devices fully charged, when possible, in case the power goes out.
- Prevent frozen pipes by running the water, even at a trickle.
- Keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. This can also help prevent frozen pipes.
- Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around your plumbing.
- If your home loses power or heat during extreme cold, go to a designated public shelter.
- Avoid driving in harsh winter conditions. If travel is absolutely necessary, make sure you have a car safety kit with you.
After the Storm: Clearing the Snow and Checking for Damage
If you don’t have a snow blower, keep in mind that shoveling snow is a major cardio workout that most people aren’t conditioned for. If possible, wait for plows to come through and do the heavy lifting, or aim to share the job with others. Once the snow is cleared, check for exterior damage like broken pipes, roof leaks or downed trees. If you notice anything in need of repairs, call your insurance company right away to file a claim.
Prepare for the Unexpected
You never know when a storm might hit. Contact your local Farm Bureau agent to make sure you have the protection you need.