Recently updated on January 10th, 2024

Overhead picture of various summer camp supplies including sunscreen, clothes, bug spray, and sunglasses.

When it comes to the winter months, we all know one thing: snow is coming. There’s always one or two storms the weather forecasters actually get right that hit us throughout the winter season. So, no matter if it’s a couple of inches, a couple of feet, or if it turns out to be nothing at all, you need to be ready! Prepping ahead of time will minimize any potential damage coming out of the storm. Stay on top of the latest forecast to see what the experts think is headed your way. Now, here’s some ways you can protect yourself, your home, and your vehicle.

Weather stripping bring applied around a door frame

Preparing Your Home

  • Winterize your home – Insulate doors and windows with weatherstripping and seal any gaps to prevent drafts. Inspect your roof, gutters, and downspouts to ensure they are in good condition and can handle heavy snow loads. Double check your heating system and have it serviced before winter begins. Have snow shovels and snowblowers easily accessible to help clear the way out of the house. If the snowblower runs on gas, check to see that the tank is full to get the job done or at least have some fuel ready to refill for a longer storm.
  • Pipes – If it’s extremely cold, keep pipes insulated with pipe covers or keep them from freezing by exposing them to warmer air inside the house, opening cabinet doors under sinks for instance. Let water drip a trickle. Use a hair dryer or keep a battery-operated heater nearby to blow warm air over the pipes.
  • Proper tools – Be prepared with plenty of ice melt or salt, preferably environmentally friendly, to melt the frozen snow and ice on sidewalks and driveways once those temps go below freezing. As we mentioned above, have those snow shovels and snowblowers ready, too!
  • Electronic devices – Don’t get left in the dark! Check to see if your flashlights work and that they have brand new batteries in them. Charge all cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices before the brunt of the storm hits to get the latest updates from the local media and the national weather service. Keep them plugged in as long as you have power. A battery-operated radio wouldn’t hurt either, just in case power does go out.
  • Food and drinks – Stock up on snacks, water, and non-perishables in case of power loss and things in the refrigerator go bad. Have enough food for a few days and account for everyone in the family all-day long, just in case.
  • Blankets – Have plenty of blankets for the family to keep them warm. Power and heat could possibly go out, so you’ll want multiple blankets around for everyone to share.
  • Emergency plan & medications – Create a family emergency plan that includes communication and evacuation strategies. Everyone should know the go-to-location and how to contact each other in case family members are separated.
A car in the snow

Preparing Your Vehicle

  • Snow tires – Having tires that will keep you from slipping and sliding will keep you safe if you need to go out on the roads.
  • Fill up – You’ll want to be sure that your tank is full. The fewer stops the better when you’re in the middle of a snow storm. Plus, who wants to get caught shorthanded and stranded if there’s an emergency and somewhere you absolutely have to get to?
  • Salt or ice melt – Help yourself out and keep a bag of salt or ice melt in your trunk at all times just in case you get caught slipping or sliding out on the roads. It could be the difference between getting out of an ice patch or sitting there waiting hours for help. Sometimes sand or gravel can do the same to get you out of a jam.
  • Safety kit – Check to see if your car is equipped with a safety kit. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in a cold car with no heat, no gloves, and no food.
  • Snow brushes – No matter if it’s a light snow or a more moderate one, you’re going to want to brush off the white stuff so you can see out all your windows. Have an ice scraper handy as well. Believe me, you’ll thank us once you are out on the roads this winter.
A toddler in a warm hat and winter coat plays in the snow

Personal and Family Safety

  • Dress warmIf you’re going to go out in the cold and storm, have yourself dressed in layers. At least a few layers are preferred in that the longer you are outside, the colder you will get. Those layers will provide the warmth you’ll need the longer you are outside and help you avoid hypothermia. Don’t forget gloves, scarves, and hats as well. Sometimes, especially if you are shoveling or playing outside, you’ll forget the time period you’ve been exposed to the cold. 
  • Medications and emergency kitHave enough prescription medicines to last you through the storm along with a first-aid kit for any cuts or bruises. Count on a week’s worth, especially if you have older or elderly people at home.
  • Don’t forget the pets – If you have pets of any kind, don’t leave them outside in the storm. Not only will they get cold and wet, but they could also wander off and find themselves lost in the snow and wind.
Power lines being weighed down by ice and snow

Outdoor Precautions In Case of a Power Outage

  • Power lines and trees – Never go around any downed power lines. They could still be live and cause considerable harm if touched. As for downed trees, wait until the storm is over until dealing with them. If it’s an emergency where a tree has done damage to your home, please call your local emergency officials like the police or fire department for assistance and guidance. Trying to fix the problem yourself could cause more harm than good.
  • Generator safety – If you are going to use a backup generator, keep the generator outside to avoid any carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep eyes on your pets  If the power does go out, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your pets. Keeping your cats, dogs, or any other animal friend warm is of high priority. Remember, they are an important part of your family, so if they have any medicines they need, have that on hand, too.

Winter Storm Checklist

  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Snow brushes
  • Batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Blankets
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Can opener
  • Pet food & medicine
  • Snow boots
  • Snow shovels
  • Ice scrapers
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kit
  • Thermal blankets
  • Electronic device chargers
  • Nonperishable food
  • Candles
  • Propane/kerosene space heater
  • Baby food, formula, and diapers (if applicable)
  • One-week supply of prescription medication & supplies
  • Back-up energy sources like portable power banks and solar chargers