Ice, snow, wind and freezing temperatures create hazardous winter conditions that can lead to power outages. Preparing your home for extreme winter weather helps ensure a safe and comfortable living environment for you and your family. Here are some tips for making your home winter storm-ready:
Invest in emergency backup power
A permanent standby generator is the best way to ensure a warm, well-lit, and safe environment during a power outage. When properly installed, they automatically keep your home’s critical systems running. Using a portable generator outside, with a long extension cord to keep a few lights and appliances running is OK in a pinch, but it’s no match to the convenience and ease-of-use that comes with a permanently installed automatic backup generator.
If you have to use a portable generator, it’s important to use it safely. Clear an exterior area for safe use of the unit. Never operate a portable generator inside the home or in a garage. Portable generators must be stationed outside, a safe distance away from windows or doors, while in operation. You’ll want to keep it cleared of snow so that the exhaust system works properly and you can access it to refuel, restart, and perform maintenance.
Perform outdoor maintenance
Trimming long tree branches that exist near the house and immediate power lines can reduce the risk of damage and power outages during a winter storm. Keep gutters, exterior chimneys and vents clear of debris and snow. Cover window wells with plastic to keep water from seeping into the basement.
Keep storm safety and maintenance tools accessible in the garage
If you have a snow blower and/or a portable generator, make sure they are working properly before the big storm comes. Winterize automobiles with a full tank of gas, water, flashlights, a snow brush, sand, warm clothing and blankets. Keep a supply of sand, salt, snow melt and shovels for clearing the driveway, walkway and steps.
Stock the pantry and kitchen with food, water and first aid supplies
Keep a three-day supply of food and water for family and pets and a first aid kit with bandages, alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment and a thermometer.
Double-check the medicine cabinet in the bathroom
Running out of life-sustaining medications can be disastrous when wintry conditions preclude a trip to the pharmacy. A three-day supply of medications—both over-the-counter and prescriptions— is recommended.
The home office is command central for emergencies
Vital documents may be needed at a moment’s notice. Keep a list of medications and other pertinent medical information, the deed or lease to your home, birth certificates, insurance policies, and family and emergency contact information together in the home office.