Out here in the west, we have a lot of experience with nasty winter weather. Extreme cold, ice, snow, freezing rain (not to mention the wind)...they can really take their toll. All the more reason to be well prepared!
Advance planning can make all the difference in your safety during a winter storm. With adequate preparation, you should be able to weather power outages, blocked roads and piles of snow outside your front door for a few days or up to a week.
The best thing you can do is make sure you are prepped and ready to be self-sufficient for a while. Here's what you need to do to pull that off. Ready to find out if you're fully prepared for winter? Ask yourself these questions.
First, are you signed up for weather alerts?
Second, do you have a stash of emergency supplies?
Make sure you have:
Emergency communication (cell phone, external charger, walkie-talkies)
Prescription medications, including inhalers, insulin and backup power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen and other assistive technology
Critical documents in a sealed, waterproof container
Tools and safety items (matches, flashlights, a multi-tool, pocket knife, and whistle is a good start)
Food and water for at least three days without access to normal services
Warm clothing and blankets (and don't forget protective footwear and gloves!)
And be sure to check the following in your car:
Antifreeze and oil levels
Battery and ignition systems
Exhaust system (carbon monoxide can be fatal)
Fuel and air filters
Heater and defroster
Lights and hazard lights
Windshield wiper equipment
Third, do you have a plan for how you'll communicate with family and friends?
Before a storm hits, it's crucial that your family know how they will get back in touch after it clears. Remember, you might not always have access to your cell phone, so keep important numbers written down in your wallet, in case you can't access your contact list.
Fourth, have you winterized your home?
The last thing you want to be dealing with in the midst of a winter storm is property damage, particularly flooding. Most property insurance companies don't cover flood losses, so you'll need to purchase separate flood insurance if you anticipate any flooding due to snow melt.
But that's not all you should be aware of! Check out our guide for properly winterizing your home, so you don't find yourself addressing busted pipes or a fire while also waiting out a blizzard.