Tips for Thought

The Ultimate Preparation Guide for an Upcoming Winter Storm

Each season has its positive and negative sides, and winter is no different. Certain areas are prone to winter storms which can bring many issues. These issues include freezing temperatures, loss of electricity, and icy roads. Here are some handy preparation tips for a winter storm to help you brave the elements:

Steps to do before a winter storm:

Living in an area prone to a winter storm can last for hours and even days. The best key for survival is to check if your area is prone to snow storms. If your area is prone to winter storms, then follow these steps to ensure overall safety:

1. Stay updated on the news.

Listen to the local news and weather reports for updates on changing weather conditions. Keep notes if necessary.

2. Prepare your home for the winter.

Winterize your home by making sure the walls are insulated. Make sure to install storm windows or cover said windows with plastic. Caulk and weather-strip your doors and windows and ensure any roof leaks are dealt with immediately. You can also cut away tree branches and inspect your chimney. For the latter, you can also ask your local fire department for an inspector recommendation.

As for pipes, get them ready for the winter by insulating them for freezing temperatures. You may consider installing “pipe sleeves” or “heat tapes” on exposed water pipes.

If you have a garage with water lines running through it, keep the space as warm as possible by insulating it. Remember also to disconnect your outdoor hoses and store them away. Keep the outside hose pips open to let them drain.

It would help if you also considered insulating the attic, basement, and crawl spaces.

3. Prepare your car and emergency kit.

Ensure your fuel tank is full, and you always have jumper cables. For an emergency kit in the car, pack essentials like the following:

  • Canned foods
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • Matches or lighters
  • A first-aid kit
  • Drinking water
  • Windshield scrapers
  • Shovel
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Pocket knife
  • Cellphone and travel chargers
  • Tire chains
  • Cat litter or sand to melt ice
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Road maps
  • Tow chains or rope

4. Get your snow removal equipment ready.

Invest in shovels, cat litter or salt to melt ice, and a plow if necessary. For the latter, make sure you are well-rested before plowing snow. Take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion, and dress warmly before braving the elements.

5. Prepare an alternative heat source and follow safety protocols.

If your house has a chimney, inspect it properly before use. Gather more than enough wood and keep the fire at a constant temperature.

If you are planning to get a generator, carefully read the safety manual. Avoid using this device in any partially enclosed area. Install carbon monoxide detectors and only operate the machine in dry conditions. Avoid touching the generator with wet hands; ensure you store the fuel in an approved safety can.

6. Keep fire extinguishers on hand.

Homes with fireplaces or generators may get out of control. Prevent any incidents by keeping fire extinguishers ready.

7. Have three days’ worth of emergency supplies on hand.

Shop for the essentials ahead, even during the early season. Most canned goods last long, so you can stock them up in your pantry without worry. Always have water ready for drinking, and make an itemized list of your supplies.

Steps to do during the winter storm:

The storm is coming, and it looks like it will go on for a while. Here’s what to do during a winter storm:

1. Pay attention to the news.

Many news outlets provide hourly updates on the weather and its progress. Stay vigilant when listening to the news, and remember to have a radio with extra batteries available.

2. Avoid going outside or unnecessary travel.

If you must go outside, dress appropriately and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

3. Never go outside alone.

Going outside can be a significant risk, especially during a snowstorm. Have a buddy system in place, and always venture out with others. If you have children, make sure they always stay inside and stay with them to calm them down.

4. Keep your pets inside.

Avoid neglecting your other family member. Prepare a space for them in the home and ensure they have enough food and water.

5. Avoid overexerting yourself for long periods.

Physical activity can lead to exhaustion if you don’t remember to look after yourself. Remember to take breaks when necessary in-between physical activities.

6. Stay calm during a power outage. 

If the power has gone out, remain calm immediately. Search for a light source and ensure you and your loved ones are together safely. Turn on your backup radio to keep listening for any announcements. Stay warm and together inside.

Steps to do after the winter storm:

The worst is over, but you’re still determining if it’s safe to venture outside. Here are some steps to take during the aftermath:

1. Stay updated on the news. 

Assuming the power is back or the events outside have calmed down, remain indoors, and listen to your radio or television.

2. Dress in warm clothes if you choose to venture outside. 

If you need to inspect any possible damage, dress appropriately for the weather. Watch out for signs of hypothermia.

3. Avoid over-exhaustion when shoveling snow. 

Take periodic breaks even during the aftermath. Just because the worse is over doesn’t mean you must be complacent.

4. Check your family members. 

Check to see if your loved ones are alright. Make a warm drink and huddle together for warmth and comfort.


A winter storm can be worrying, so preparation is vital. If you need the appropriate shelter for the upcoming storm, contact your local government office and ask for any shelters available. Pack appropriately, and remember always to stay safe!