Weathering the Storm | Preparing for a Harsh Winter

Road after hit by a snow stormDepending on the source, this year St. Louis will either have a “bitter and snowy” winter or a “wetter and milder” winter than last year. Either way, preparing for the worst can only be good for you.

Is your house winter-ready? How well will your house stand up to harsh winter weather?

First, let’s review the 7 basic steps to ready your home for winter weather.

Have you:

  • Cleaned your gutters?
  • Insulated your attic?
  • Tested your furnace?
  • Repaired air ducts?
  • Reversed ceiling fans?
  • Insulated water pipes?
  • Checked smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Installed battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors?

What about preventative steps? Have you:

  • Hired a contractor to inspect your roof?
  • Ensured your family knows how to properly use your fire extinguishers?
  • Trimmed tree branches and limbs?
  • Disassembled and stored large umbrellas, canopies and other outdoor furniture?
  • Cleaned and inspected your fireplace, chimney and other heating equipment?
  • Prepared an emergency kit for your family?

 

Great! Now, what about you? Are you winter storm-ready?

Beyond typical winter prepping measures, if the worst-case scenario plays out and a major winter storms hits, there are a number of problem areas that will need to be addressed.

Problem Area #1 – No Power

Iced up power linesMost likely, in the worse of storms, the power will go out. Meaning, homes whose primaryheating sources come from electricity, heating oil or a gas furnace (electricity is needed to run blowers on gas furnaces) will be unable to be heated. This also means that homes that get their water from a well, will also have to go without.

Some solutions to consider:

  • Generator – Portable generators are a great home investment and can range from $300 to more than $12,000. Never use a generator inside your home or any other enclosed area! Always hire a professional electrician for installation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)recommends for OUTSIDE generators, have an electric cord long enough to keep the generator at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent.
  • Battery Backup – For those who rely on assistive technology for oxygen, mobility devices and other needs, be sure to have plenty backup batteries on hand. For your home, FEMA also recommends installing battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors.

Problem Area #2 – No Communication

Elderly woman on cell phoneIn the case of a power outage, how will you communicate to friends and family outside of the home? Winter storms can overwhelm landlines and cell towers. Here are some solutions to consider:

  • Backup Battery – Have a backup cell phone battery for every cell phone. We like this one!
  • Use Social Media – Social media or text messaging may be useful when attempting to communicate with friends and family.
  • Write it Down – In the case that all technology fails, go old-school and write down all of your important numbers on a note card or piece of paper in your wallet.

Problem Area #3 – No Shelter

If days pass and the power still has not been restored, your backup batteries has lost its juice and supplies are gone—finding a designated shelter is the next step. Be sure to bring personal items such as toiletries and medicines that you will need for the night. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find a shelter in your area.

There is no such thing as being too prepared for a harsh winter storm. This way, regardless of what weather prediction turns out to be correct; you, your family and home will be ready.

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FEMA’s tips on preparing for and surviving a winter storm


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