Knowing how to prepare for a winter storm can make a difference. If you are prepared, you and your loved ones can cope with the storm with relative comfort, even if the electricity is cut off. However, for someone who is not ready and does not prepare, a winter storm can be a terrible experience. Ideally, preparing for a storm is something that should have started a long time ago and continued throughout the year. There are things you can do that can make a big difference, but they will require advanced planning and implementation.
At the same time, there will also be final preparations that will be activated as the storm approaches. It will also be important to maintain vigilance while your area is suffering the worst part of the storm. It will only be possible to really relax once the storm has passed, without causing injuries or adverse effects.
In addition to the specific steps that must be followed, there are also basic guidelines for survival situations. Know where the whole world is. All people should know what their function is, where they should bend down, how to communicate and what are the different contingencies in case something goes wrong.
Integrity of temperature
When it comes to preparing for a winter storm, one of the most important steps is to verify, confirm and reinforce the integrity of your home. This is not something that can be done in a short period, so it is imperative to start rolling the ball before the winter season arrives. The first thing you will control is the capacity of your home to prevent cold weather from getting out of the heat. Anything you can do to make the atmosphere inside your home more stable at temperature will help you a lot when the winter storm finally arrives.
Take a look at obvious points first, like doors and windows. When they are closed, are the seals tight enough to trap the air? Many people will find that their homes have air leaks, and these gaps and infractions will cause problems once the storm arrives.
Cracks or voids should be filled with a strong material, such as putty. Spaces between doors, door frames, windows and window frames should be minimized using weather strips. If there has been buckling or bowing that has caused the edges to no longer be aligned, they should be repaired as soon as possible.
Make sure the insulation is being used properly and appropriately in your home. At a minimum, insulation should be used to create a layer of temperature trapping in the attic area, as well as inside the walls. To give yourself a backup in case the temperature finds a path inside your home, you can choose a particular room to be even more isolated, so that you can retreat to that room if necessary.
It should also be possible to create an additional layer of protection on the outside and inside sides of windows and doors, by using special covers or flaps that can be lowered and locked before a storm, or plastic sheets. Towels and other similar materials can be used to block any remaining gaps during the storm.
Having said that, it is also important to bear in mind that there is a certain danger that increases, once ventilation is hindered and the interior-exterior air exchange is reduced. Potentially, there could be an accumulation of hazardous substances inside the home, especially carbon monoxide.
To protect against this, take special account of the status of ventilation and air quality in those areas where cooking or other heating is being carried out. Install carbon monoxide sensors around your home, but particularly in those areas. This gas is invisible and has no odor, so you will need devices to detect any potential danger.
Apart from the intense cold brought by winter storms, another risk factor is the potentially significant amount of snowfall. People sometimes underestimate how quickly a storm can shed large amounts of snow in a particular area. These things have weight, and if enough is allowed to accumulate in one place, disaster can occur. Since it is ideal for you and your loved ones to take shelter inside the house when the storm arrives, it may not be possible to take action to disperse through the snow during that time. This makes it even more important to prepare for this event well in advance.
A key step is simply for a professional to verify the structural integrity of their roof surfaces. You want to know how much weight the roof can support before it starts to give way. Run several scenarios with the professional, considering what might happen if large amounts of snow are deposited in your home in a short period of time. If there seems to be a reasonable risk of roof collapse, this will mean that you will have to find ways to strengthen the support structure under the roof, as well as the roofing material.
It is also vital to give snow a way to get up from your roof or your home. Consider if it makes sense to adjust the angles of the roof parts to facilitate the sliding of the sleet. With enough time, part of the snow can melt. Ideally, this should help reduce some of the weight at the top of your home. However, if the gutters and other drainage elements of your roof are clogged with debris, this will slow down. That is not what you want to be happening. So be sure to clean up any debris regularly, throughout the year.
There are other structural problems that could also come into play. For example, if there are trees located near your roof, your branches and branches could be torn off by the storm and thrown to your roof or your house, causing damage. Consider whether it is possible to transfer some of these trees to a safer distance.
If there are dead or dying branches, prune them regularly so they do not end up like projectiles down when the storm arrives. The same is true for any other element that is nearby, which could fall on the roof. Look around with awareness of what might be too close to your roof.
The importance of self-sufficiency.
One of the things that many people fear more than a winter storm is the feeling of being isolated from the outside world. When a particularly strong storm strikes, there is a good chance that power will decrease. Other basic elements, such as water, heat, telephone connections and the Internet, will generally not be available either.
If something goes wrong, it may not be possible to drive to a hospital because your vehicle will be buried in the snow, just like the roads. Emergency personnel will probably not be able to help you. Walking around to get help will also not be an option. So you’re on your own.
In a way, this type of situation emphasizes how dependent people have become these people and how they are connected to the network. Once people are disconnected and isolated, many of them do not know who to turn to.
However, being a survivor means precisely that you prepare things in advance so that, in case it is the worst, you can survive on your own. This self-sufficiency will help you get through, even through terrible calamities and disasters. This starts with the basics, so it is important to accumulate a reserve of clean water, ready-to-eat foods, important medicines and other useful supplies, such as shovels.
Taking things further, power is going to be a problem. Even if your house has a solar or wind generator, it may not work during the storm. However, there are other options to consider. It may be possible to use a bicycle type or a crank generator to produce small amounts of energy.
However, the drawback is that working on sweat can be detrimental to heat retention, due to the evaporation of perspiration. You can also use a battery storage system to accumulate a quantity of reserve energy while the electricity is still on. Then, these can be combined with low-energy devices, such as LEDs for lighting and a radio to keep abreast of what is happening outside.
Heat is also an important consideration. It is best to avoid relying on flame-based heat methods, if possible, due to the danger of carbon monoxide buildup. This means that it is important to have clothes for each person that is designed to maximize heat generation and minimize heat loss.
There should be a set of layers of different garments for each person, including socks, gloves and something with a hood. There should also be sets of blankets, sheets, quilts and similar items so that you can have more heat, if necessary. All these must be stored safely and in an easily accessible place.
Short-term preparation: final steps
When the news of an approaching winter storm is known, it is when short-term preparation should begin. This will include many small but important steps. In fact, a checklist should be prepared and should be easy to consult so that nothing vital is lost. You must make a final revision of the exterior of the house, looking for anything that could cause structural damage.
Fix the external panels of the windows or doors, or cover them with resistant plastic sheets both outside and inside. Check that there is nothing outside that must be entered. Then, you will perform a final verification of your current stock of supplies.
Make sure there is enough food and water to last three to four days, at least, if not a week or so. Make sure that the items in your stock remain in good condition and have not yet expired. Put your manual can openers somewhere easily accessible.
Also, make sure you have enough flashlights (starting flashlights or shakes can be useful here), batteries, power banks, maintenance and other medications, first aid supplies, extra supplies if you have a baby or a pet, and the like . Test all equipment, such as radio and flashlights, to make sure they really work.
Other preparations must also be made. Print the contact information of neighbors, emergency services and loved ones. If possible, find out what the plans of your friends, family and neighbors are, so you know how to coordinate and communicate if necessary.
Make sure you have a landline that connects to the wall, so you can make phone calls if the phone system continues to work, even if power and network services are turned off. Fill containers like buckets, or even bathtubs with water, in case this is useful later. Be sure to open faucets and the like slightly, so that the water in the pipes is less likely to freeze.
Charge all your mobile devices completely. Discuss your plan once again with your family members and the people who stay with you, so that everyone is on the same page. It can be difficult for people to get trapped in a closed space with other people, so make sure there are things that people can do, that do not require electricity. Have books and magazines at hand. A few board games or a deck of cards could help alleviate boredom or the stress of waiting. You can consider sharing walkies talkies with a neighbor or two, so that short-range communication is possible.
Build your exit strategy
It is not ideal to be on the road in the middle of a winter storm. However, there may be circumstances that require you to find a way to transport someone who needs advanced medical care seriously. Preparation for this type of potential emergency must occur before the storm.
The vehicle needs to be prepared. If you have more than one vehicle, be sure to fill all your fuel tanks before the storm arrives, and park them indoors, if possible, or somewhere relatively safe if there is no garage available. Designate a vehicle to use in case of an emergency. It must be the one that best manages the rugged terrain and the climatic conditions.
Store the emergency vehicle with supplies. It should also contain food, water, warm blankets, flashlights, batteries, radio, first aid kit, medication, windshield scraper, jumper cables, flares, printed maps, tools, devices or early warning cones, etc.
Be sure to withdraw a sufficient amount of cash before the storm arrives, in case the banks are closed and the ATMs do not work. Keep all important documents safe and ready in one place, inside the house. This includes documents related to health problems and other medical conditions. In this way, it will be easier to grab them and take them with you, in case of a health emergency.
Know where the nearest hospital is or the nearest location where you can get assistance. Have your shovels ready so you can leave the house, if necessary. Know how to improvise a stretcher or use existing furniture to transport someone, in case the person with the medical problem can not walk or is unconscious. Make sure that people who stay in the house have a clear idea of their route and plan, so they can provide this information to emergency personnel, just in case.
Then, continue driving slowly to the hospital or other destination. Ideally, at least one person in the family should have received training on how to drive in adverse weather conditions. This is something that must be studied ahead of time, because it is the kind of skill that develops gradually with constant practice.
While driving, use the radio to be aware of the current weather conditions and any problems on the roads you will take. If possible, call ahead to be expected and maintain constant communication with people at home, so that at least one person is aware of their status.
Are you really prepared?
The main conclusion here is that much of the preparation that must be done has to happen long before the storm. If someone only begins to prepare while the storm is on the way, then it will be at a great disadvantage. However, if a household regularly accumulates its reserve of food, water and other essentials throughout the year, and if it takes measures to make the house as well-conditioned as possible for the winter, then there will be less stress, less time pressure and they will potentially have more. Comfortable time, even if the storm is just outside.
Technology will have its role to play in this type of emergency. LEDs can keep darkness at bay. Radios and talkies talkies can prevent the feeling of isolation from taking control. But at the same time, it’s important to make sure you can manage on your own, even if you’re disconnected from the network.