Homeowners in cold-weather climates—such as the Northeast, Midwest, and mountain areas—face icy conditions, blizzards and other cold-weather storms.
Beyond requiring a quick trip to the convenience store for milk and bread, severe cold weather can threaten your home’s structure and your safety. Therefore, it’s important to take measures and invest in the resources you’ll need to deal effectively with winter’s challenges before it gets into full swing.
Understand the Threats of Severe Cold Weather
Blizzards: Storms with heavy winds and large amounts of snow accumulation can cause roof or other structural damage and leave you isolated.
Ice storms and ice dams: Ice storms coat structures, trees, power lines, cars, roads and virtually everything else with ice. As the ice melts, large chunks can fall and cause injury to anyone below. When ice melts during the day and then re-freezes at night, ice dams—which block water from flowing in the gutter—may form. This condition can force water back under the roof line and cause leaks.
Sleet or freezing rain: Combinations of snow and freezing rain may cause slippery conditions and coat roads, sidewalks and driveways with ice when temperatures drop.
Protect Yourself From Severe Cold Weather
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that home owners have shovels on hand, as well as melting agents such as rock salt. Some of the new, more environmentally friendly deicers include calcium magnesium acetate and sand to improve traction. Be sure to stock up early in the season, as these agents tend to be in short supply during periods before a well-publicized storm.
FEMA also advises you have enough fuel to maintain heat in your home, as well as a backup heating source: firewood if the home has a working fireplace or a generator to power heaters in case of power failure. However, use caution as these can represent fire hazards when not used correctly. Be sure to follow directions explicitly and keep a fire extinguisher. Some generators and fireplaces also require proper ventilation, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety—so follow directions carefully and keep them away from curtains or other flammable items.
Stock up on extra blankets, warm clothing and enough food/water to sustain your family in case of a few days of isolation. And a transistor radio with fresh batteries can help keep you updated on news and information in case of a power outage.