It can be difficult to stay safe and warm during extremely cold weather. Winter storms can cause cold temperatures, power outages, lost communication services, and icy roads. You can help your family and friends stay safe by knowing how to prepare your home for a winter storm.
1. Winter Storm Impacts
It is impossible to predict what type of weather the winter months might bring. Some winters are mild and sunny, while others can bring heavy rain, snow, wind and ice. Even mild winters can be very hard on your home. Here are some ways winter weather can potentially cause damage to your home.
➤ Wind: Wind can cause damage to your roof and other areas of your house by bending branches or tumbling trees. Exposure to the elements can lead to higher Peoples Gas bills, and your house becomes more susceptible to melting snow and rain. Clogged downspouts can also be caused by wind blowing leaves into your gutter. Clogged gutters can cause water to leak into your home, flood basements, or crack foundations.
➤ Snow: While snow is beautiful, it can cause serious damage to your Illinois home if it melts. Heavy snow can damage your roof and cause damage to your landscaping. Flooding can be caused by melting snow in basements.
➤ Ice: Because it can breakdown trees, ice can cause them to fall over and damage your home or other structures. Ice can cause cracks in the foundation of your home, which can lead to mold growth and carpet damage.
➤ Cold weather: If your sump pump is equipped with a freeze protection valve, cold temperatures can cause a blockage in the pipes, allowing water to backup into the home, causing potential for leaks, mold and mildew. To preserve heat, we should also close our homes in colder weather. Mold can quickly grow in a home with all that warm and moist air.
2. How To Plan And Prepare For Winter Storms
Winter storms can bring large amounts of snow along with extreme cold, high winds and freezing rain. They can bring down trees and make roads and walkways extremely dangerous. Power outages can also occur that can last several days. Schools and childcare facilities maybe closed, as well as public transportation. Winter storms can increase the risk of car accidents, hypothermia and frostbite, as well as carbon monoxide poisonings, heart attacks, and car accidents.
This is why it is important to learn how to protect your family, home, and yourself from winter storms. Here are some things you can do to prepare for a severe storm.
Weatherproof Your Home
- Insulate water lines running along exterior walls to reduce the chance of your water supply freezing.
- Weather-strip and caulk doors and windows
- Insulate the attic and walls.
- You can install storm windows, thermal-pane windows, or cover windows from the inside with plastic.
- Repair roof leaks, and remove tree branches that could have fallen on your home or another structure in a storm.
- You should have your chimney and flue inspected every year if you plan on using a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating. You can find an inspector online or ask your local fire department for recommendations.
- Install a smoke detector near any fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater. They should be tested at least once a month and replaced every two years.
- A multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher is always handy.
- Ventilation should be done to all fuel-burning devices.
- To ensure the proper operation of your furnace and vents during winter, have them checked annually by a qualified technician.
Assemble Emergency Kit
- Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
- Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets
- Windshield scraper
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Water and snack food
- First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife
- Tow chains or rope
- Tire chains
- Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
- Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice
- Booster cables with fully charged battery or jumper cables
- Hazard or other reflectors
- Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
- Road maps
- Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
This weekend’s cold blasts of Arctic air reminded us that winter is fast approaching and will arrive sooner than we would like. Although winter can be filled with fun activities like snowball fights, hot chocolate, and sledding, it is important that you know what to do in the event of dangerous weather and temperatures plummeting. It might be worth reviewing your auto and home insurance policies before winter storms hit.