Keep Safe! How To Prepare for an Ice Storm
Winter storms can bring with them extremely cold temperatures, high winds, freezing rain, and frozen precipitation. They may lead to downed trees, make roads or pathways hazardous to navigate, and result in power outages that last for days.
That is why, as the winter storm season continues, it's critical to understand how to keep yourself, your family, and your home safe. If you live in a region where winter weather is a possibility, whether it's a significant storm or a little flurry of snow, there are some pre-storm preparations you can take to be ready for whatever happens—and keep your home safe.
Here are some things you can do to get ready before that extreme cold and harsh storm hits.
Stocking Up on Emergency Supplies
No winter storm is going to be a walk in the park, but some storms can be a little more treacherous than others. Before winter weather hits your area, make sure you have an emergency kit of supplies on hand with three days' worth of food and water that doesn't need to be cooked or heated.
According to Ready.gov, a national public service campaign from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, your emergency supply kit should also include items like:
- A first aid kit
- Flashlight and batteries
- Extra warm clothing including hats and mittens for every member of the household
- An ice scraper with a brush
- Blankets or sleeping bags in case your power goes out overnight
- A working NOAA weather radio
- A car cellphone charger
You'll probably want to make sure you have plenty of gasoline in your car for the duration of the storm. It doesn't hurt to check in winter weather conditions, but you should be able to last at least three days without having to refuel your car after a storm has passed.
If you live in an area where your electricity could go out, make sure your winter storm plans include plenty of extra batteries on hand for flashlights and other emergency lights.
Prepare Your Home HVAC & Plumbing
Without power, you’ll have limited options for heating your home. So, it’s important to make sure your house holds on to as much of its heat as possible. That’s why you should weatherize your home for winter before the cold weather hits.
Make sure your exterior sidewall vents are clean so that you can use your heating system and water heater safely.
It's critical to remember that your outdoor vents must be clear of snow and ice during a blizzard. This should simply be part of your regular snow removal routine - check on those vents whenever you go out to shovel, snow-blow, or plow.
Keep your natural gas meter clear of ice and snow, and make sure it's visible at all times so that maintenance and emergency responders can access it.
Use a broom brush to remove snow - never use plows or snow blower near the meter or other HVAC equipment to avoid harming it. Also, never swing or strike your meter or its pipes with a hammer or any other hard objects to break away ice.
Snow is prevented from accumulating on top of heat pumps by most models. However they are not immune, and heat pumps can stop working when needed most. While they are simple to maintain, check to see whether your heat pump is still clear during heavy snow or ice.
To ensure adequate drainage during defrost, clear the top, sides, underneath, and surrounding area of the unit. Also make sure there's nothing covering it to obstruct airflow.
A heat pump's efficiency may be reduced by too much snow or accumulation, which can cause long-term damage.
Regular Heater Maintenance
Preventive heating maintenance on your home's furnace, boiler, or heat pump is one of the most efficient and simplest methods to get your house ready for cold weather and severe winter storms.
HVAC equipment, especially central air conditioners, is prone to breakdowns and repairs. Regularly inspecting and tuning it up will ensure that it runs smoothly in all seasons and at peak efficiency.
Unless you want to chance damaging your equipment, we recommend having a professional furnace tune-up before the ice storms so that the belts, motors, electrical switches, thermostats, and gas pressure may all be properly examined and any concerns addressed.
A technician can confirm that the system is clean and in good working order, as well as that it is capable of achieving its manufacturer-stated efficiency. They will also check for any carbon-monoxide leaks or other safety concerns at this time.
A snowstorm might cause electrical wires to become heavy and fall, a vehicle can hit a pole, and other unanticipated events may leave you without power in your home. Having a home generator installed will be beneficial since it won't allow you to endure hours or days without electricity.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing
When water freezes, it expands. If your pipes freeze, the ice may burst it, causing significant damage. Fixing property damages caused by frozen water pipes can cost thousands of dollars. Pipes with no insulation running through unheated areas are the ones that are most prone to freezing.
The best approach to prevent pipes from freezing during a power outage is to insulate them ahead of time. However, there are a few things you can do if you haven't done so already. Open the doors under kitchen and bathroom sinks.
Close your garage door (but make sure you can open it manually). Allow the water to run at a trickle if you know a faucet is connected to a pipe in an outdoor wall. Even allowing a little water to flow through it may prevent the pipe from icing up.
Keep Non-Perishable Food on Hand
Even if you have plenty of emergency food and water, it's smart to keep the normal stockpile of groceries on hand as well. If you lose power during winter weather, your refrigerator will stop working, so anything that can't be eaten frozen should probably go into the freezer.
Stock up on canned goods, boxed or bagged grains and pasta, fruits and vegetables that can be eaten raw, nuts and seeds. Be sure to have a manual can opener as well.
The same goes for pets—if you know winter weather is coming, make sure your pets have plenty of food available for at least three days. They should also have a sufficient supply of fresh water for the duration of winter weather.
Keeping Your Family Safe
Winter storms can be dangerous, especially if you don't know what to expect or if your car gets stuck in the snow. Before winter weather arrives, make sure that every member of your household knows how to stay safe during winter weather. Teach young children that winter means bundling up. Have them wear a hat and mittens, as well as their coats.
Make sure they know to stay where they can be seen—don't let your little ones play in the snow if you don't have a fenced-in yard. Older kids should make sure they understand that ice is more likely to form on sidewalks and roads than on grass or dirt, so taking an extra moment to put on their gloves and boots before going outside could prevent a concussion.
Travel safely during winter weather by checking road conditions ahead of time . This will help ensure that you're not caught off guard with impassable roads. If possible, wait until the storm has passed to travel or ask a neighbor for a ride.
Check on Your Neighbors
In addition to taking care of yourself and your family, you should also keep an eye on your neighbors. If you have elderly people or pregnant women in your neighborhood, check on them before winter weather arrives. Assess their needs for emergency supplies and other help as necessary to make sure they're safe during the storm.
You'll also want to know who has pets if you have a backyard—be sure they have access to shelter from the snow and ice during winter weather as well as enough food and water to last for three days at least. With all these preparations made ahead of time, winter storms shouldn't be too much of a threat!
Winter Storm Outlook Words To Know
Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts where you get your regular news, such as:
Winter Storm Warning
Extreme winter weather conditions are expected to become life-threatening or have already begun within 24 hours.
The blizzards are expected to last for three hours or more. Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, as well as significant falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, are anticipated to persist for at least three hours.
Winter Storm Watch
This advises people about the potential for a blizzard, considerable snowfall, heavy freezing rain, or severe sleet. A Winter Storm Watch is usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the start of a Winter Storm.
Winter Weather Advisory
This is a severe weather alert for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet that would cause significant problems and, if no care is taken, could result in life-threatening situations.
Protect Your HVAC System and Plumbing from Snow and Ice This Winter
The significance of severe winter weather preparedness is well-known among homeowners, but many people are unaware that maintaining your heating system in good working order prior to the winter season is critical. It will not only guarantee that you and your loved ones are more comfortable and secure in your house, but it will also help ensure that your home's plumbing HVAC system lasts longer and consumes less energy.
At ARS/Rescue Rooter, our trained HVAC technicians and plumbers are experienced at tackling the ramifications an ice storm and winter weather can have on your plumbing, heating and cooling. From emergency repair services to annual heating tune-up service to prepare you before a winter storm hits, you can trust our team of experts.