Winter storms can range in severity from a moderate snow fall over 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 (in excess of 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. What’s more, a dangerous winter storm can also cause street and interstate closures, loss of internet and cable, and power outages. 

Blizzard preparation isn’t something to take lightly. Here’s how to prepare for a blizzard so you, your family and your home stays warm and safe should a blizzard strike. 

How to Prepare for a Blizzard

It’s helpful to have certain items and tools on hand so you are prepared when the snow starts falling hard. Items you should have at home in case of a blizzard include:

  • Shovels or a snow blower. Shovels are necessary 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 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 keep them warm. You don’t want to be left in the cold if your power is taken out.  
  • An emergency radio and extra batteries. Prepare for a blizzard by getting an emergency radio and surplus batteries. Radios are affordable, 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! Also 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. 
  • 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 also helps 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. 

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.