Winter storms: How you can prepare

Winter weather is unpredictable.

Do you what steps you can take preparing for a winter storm?

Winter storms can happen quickly without much warning. Snow and freezing rain can happen anytime of the year and in any location as long as there are the right circumstances. The difference between getting rain or snow is the temperature. If the temperature is under 32 degrees Fahrenheit any precipitation will turn into snow.

A typical winter season is late October to March though some areas have seen snow as late as May. Snow storms can last a few hours to a few days with the inability to leave the home to get needed supplies.

Winter storms can cause you to lose power, heat and the phone lines to get disconnected. Preparing ahead of time helps in case these circumstances happen and reduces the chance that individuals will get hurt.

Different Types of Winter Storms

Freezing Rain – Rain may turn into ice once it hits the ground if the temperature is 28 or below. Meterologists will only call it freezing rain if .25 inches of ice has formed on ground.

Blizzard or sometimes called snow squall is when heavy snow comes quickly with strong winds over 30 mph and low visibility to just a few hundred feet away.

Snow Flurries is when snow is barely visible and melts once it hits the ground.

Snow Showers is a quick limited time of falling snow that can at times result in a few inches of snow.

Prepare for a Storm

The best way to prepare for any storm is to do it before a winter storm happens. Good way to remember when to start preparing for winter is right after the first frost has happened or

Below are a few things that you should put together.

1. Emergency Prepardness Kit

  • First Aid Kit
  • Canned food with manual can opener
  • Bottled water ( 1 gallon per person)
  • Extra clothes for each person
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Flashlights, candles and matches
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Extra prescribed medications and pain reliever for 3 days
  • Small portable radio with extra batteries
  • 1 -2 coolers in case power goes out and food needs to be moved to remain cold
  • Extra food for each pet(dry and canned food)
  • Extra medical supplies for individuals with health issues. (Oxygen tank, non electric wheelchair etc. )
  • Printed list with contact numbers of police, fire, hospitals, local emergency management department and designated family contacts.
  • Binder with copies of important documents(drivers license, birth certificate, social security card, renter’s/home insurance)
  • Have a smaller emergency kit for your car.

2. Go to grocery store 24 to 48 hours prior to predicted storm to stock up on groceries and any needed supplies. Also remember fast food delivery and stores may close down in a storm if conditions are severe. Plan to have enough food and bottled water in case you are unable to leave your home due to roads and severity of a storm.

3. If you have a snow blower and generator start up each machine to make sure they start and there are no issues. Also store extra gasoline.

4. If you are using shovels find them in the garage and double check there are no cracks in base of the shovel and handle is still secured. We recommended to have between 2 – 4 shovels so you can place them in different locations. Example would be 2 for the driveway, 1 for the front ramp/stairs and 1 for the back patio.

5. Store 2 bags of ice melt salt (10 to 20 pound bag) to use to help melt ice after a storm and to use as traction over ice when walking on driveway/stairs. If you run out of ice melt salt a good alternative to use is cat litter. Cat litter doesn’t melt the ice but will reduce your chance of falling by giving you traction to walk on.

6. Check to make sure you have two matching gloves, scarves, boots and winter hats for each individual in the home. For your winter jacket make sure it fits and the zipper still works. Have the winter jacket a little baggier if you tend to dress in layers during the winter.

During the Storm

1. Check your local news station for updates on when the storm may occur and how much snow or freezing rain is expected. Prior to storm check to make sure you have enough food, water and needed supplies in case you are unable to leave your home for a few days due to the winter storm.

2. Get out your emergency preparedness kit and put in the kitchen for easy access.

3. If the winter storm is severe stay home unless it is for work or a emergency. If you choose to drive in your car please drive defensively and slower to reduce the chance of a accident. Make sure your cellphone is with you and has a fully charged battery.

4. Put together a smaller emergency kit for your car. This should include blankets, extra pair of clothes, socks, bottled water, granola bars, hand warmers, gloves, winter hat, emergency flare, portable radio with batteries and a printed list with contact names and numbers of police, fire, hospitals and designated family or friend contacts.

5. Charge your cellphone to make sure you have a full battery in case the power goes out.

6. Find your shovels and ice melt salt and place in a central location in garage until you go out to shovel.

7. Wait to shovel until the snow slows down or has completely stopped. Have your cellphone with you in case you fall or get hurt so you can call for help.

After a storm

1. When you shovel take breaks to reduce the chance of having a heart attack or hurting yourself. Have your cellphone on you when shoveling.

2. Make sure to layer up when outside even for a few minutes. Frostbite can happen quickly in your hands, arms, legs and face if not properly covered.

3. Put on sunscreen and wear sunglasses. If you burn in the summer you still have a chance of getting sunburnt in the winter. Wearing sunglasses helps protect your eyes both shoveling snow and while driving in the car. The sun can reflect off the snow make it blinding to see.

3. Replenish any items you used in your emergency preparedness kit, first aid kit, canned goods, pet food and bottled water. Best advice is to get in the habit of replenishing items either the next time you go to the store or by the weekend whatever time comes first.


Winter is a great time with new activities like sledding, skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Please remember to also prepare for winter storms in case your car breaks down or the power goes out in your home.

What is one thing you do each winter to prepare?

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