February 9, 2013

Winter Weather Survival Tips

Now that we are in the heart of the winter, the weather map is starting to show some of the biggest snowstorms that we have seen in well over two years. Let’s take a look at what you should be doing and how you can prepare yourself to stay safe during these events.

First, it is important to check around the exterior of your house and make sure everything is cleaned up so that you don’t have to worry about things getting buried by the snow and later becoming a tripping hazard because it’s just below the snow, no one can see it and it ends up hurting someone. Another good thing to do is walk your sidewalk and driveway if you have paved driveways and check for rocks and move them. This will help you avoid breaking your snow blower when it comes time for removing the snow from the driveway.

Secondly, make sure that you have a backup source of power. Typically power outages do occur during a winter storm, especially when the snow is heavy and wet, as it builds up and causes the lines to collapse. People who have generators should make sure that they have extra gasoline available to supply their generators for about three to five days after the storm. Roads may become impassible for some time.

Thirdly, make sure that if you have to travel, you try and get your traveling done before the storm arrives. If you are traveling during the storm, make sure someone knows your departure time and expected arrival time so that they can be watching out for your safety, as well. Your car should be full of gasoline before you leave on this trip so that if you get stuck you have fuel to keep your car warm for some time. This brings up the next important point; make sure that your cell phones are charged at all times during a winter storm so that they are ready for quick use. If you have car troubles, or get stuck, never leave the car and start walking. This is the fastest way to endanger your life.

Next, you should always make sure that you have plenty of canned and other foods in the house before a storm hits, just in case you are unable to get out of the house for a few days after the storm. This is also true for your car; make sure to have a snack pack in the car, so that if you do get stuck you have food supplies available in your car. Many people overlook this simple step.

During the storm, you should be hunkered down in your house or wherever you plan on staying during the storm. It is also very crucial to make sure you have the batteries in your NOAA Weather Radio charged and ready to go so that if the power goes out you can still get all the important weather warnings.

Once the storm passes your area and you can make it back to the outdoors safely, one of the first things to do is to evaluate your roof. This is another huge problem after big snow storms. The roofs collect all of that heavy wet snow, which can put extreme pressure on the roof and leads to roof damage. When you start moving snow it is also important to know that it’s going to be heavy and wet. This can lead to heart problems in people and is also a significant cause of storm deaths. If you will be using a snow-blower, it is important to check for obstacles before you start.

It is important to remember to give yourself plenty of breaks when moving heavy wet snow, as it can be a huge strain on your health. It has been proven that one of the most common reasons for storm deaths is in the work that occurs after the storm itself. Here are a few other snow clearing tips that can help you; always look for the lowest snow pile and start with that by clearing yourself an opening. It will make the work that much easier. Then create small paths and work from the paths outwards. If you live in a place that is prone to blowing and drifting snow, try to place the snow piles downwind of your house. Otherwise that same snow will visit you again when the wind starts to blow.

These are just a few pointers on how to prepare for a winter storm, how to survive a winter storm and how to be safe when cleaning up the mess that is left behind.

Image Credit: PeJo / Shutterstock

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