Storm Preparedness Guide: What You Need to Stay Safe This Winter

Get your house in order before the next big storm hits.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Written by Maridel Reyes

The Polar vortex may have come and gone, but it’s only the start of winter storm season. From how to winter-proof your home and the supplies you need to your family’s ultimate preparedness plan, we’ve got you covered for any wild weather situation this year.

Winterize Your Home

  • Create a detailed home inventory of your possessions and keep it in a safe spot away from your home. Go here for a printable list.
  • Check your roof for loose, missing, worn or damaged shingles to minimize flying debris and reduce the chance of possible water damage.
  • Clean gutters and make sure they are properly aligned and securely attached to your house.
  • Grade property so water drains away from the foundation.
  • Replace caulk and weather-stripping that has lost contact with surfaces.
  • Rake leaves away from drains to avoid street and property flooding.
  • Check for loose handrails, banisters and stair coverings. Buckled or cracked walks should be repaired.
  • Clear snow and ice from sidewalks in front of your home to avoid dangerous falls (this is the home/property owner’s responsibility).
  • Trim shrubbery away from siding to prevent insect and moisture damage. Remove shrubbery that interferes with walkways.
  • Insulate exposed water pipes and outdoor faucets to protect them from freezing.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries as needed. Replace units every eight years.
  • Check basement and crawl space for dampness and leakage. Standing water could be a sign of improper drainage.
  • Check all windows to make sure they open, close and lock properly.


Make an Emergency Kit

Build an emergency kit with at least three days of essentials for family and pets. Kits should be portable and ready to go in the case of evacuation. Always double-check expiration dates and update your emergency preparedness kit every 6 months. Use Daylight Saving dates as a reminder to double-check your kit. Go here for a printable emergency kit checklist.


Have a Family Communication Plan

  • Discuss with your family how to prepare for and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • Identify an out-of-area contact. After a disaster, long distance phone lines may be more reliable than local lines. Ask a friend or relative who lives outside of the state to be your “family contact.” After a disaster, your family contact becomes a communication point to share information with all household members. Your plan depends on everyone knowing your contact’s phone number.
  • Program all emergency contact numbers into all of your phones, or keep a list with you. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
  • Use text messaging if network disruptions are causing phone calls not to go through. Wireless phones will not work if the electricity is out. Landline phones are the most reliable.
  • Complete a Family Communication Plan and post in places your family spends most of its time. Go here for a printable version.

TELL US: How are you preparing for winter storms? What are your must-have essentials? 


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