Winter Emergency Preparedness Tips
Preparing for winter emergencies makes good sense and doing so can make life easier in the long run. By taking a few simple steps you can prepare yourself, your household and your vehicle for any unexpected consequences that winter may bring. To help you get started with your preparations we have listed below some basic winter emergency preparedness tips. In the recommended reading section at the end of this article, you will also find some useful links to further information on winter weather checklists, snowstorms, and extreme cold.
Family Winter Emergency Preparedness Tips
Get Your Flu Vaccine
Getting the flu affects people in different ways. Those of us that are in good health will usually recover from the Flu within a week or so. However, for older people, young children, and people with chronic health conditions, the flu can be much more serious and lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.
The flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. In the United Kingdom, the Flu season begins around September time. Getting an annual flu vaccine is recommended by the health authorities as the best way to cut your risk of getting sick with flu and spreading it to others. The more people who get vaccinated against the flu, the less it will spread through their community.
Store Extra Food And Freeze Milk And Bread In Case Of Severe Weather
If severe winter weather hits you may not be able to get out to buy food. It’s a good idea to store a little extra non-perishable food such as cans and dried food for when this happens.
Also, consider stocking up your freezer and freezing some extra bread and milk for when you can’t get to the store. By carefully planning your winter food storage ahead of time you will still be able to serve up a good meal if bad weather hits.
It is possible that your family will not all be when an extreme winter event happens. It’s important to know how you will contact each other and what you will do during such an emergency. Talk with other family members about this and make a Family Communication Plan.
Household Winter Emergency Preparedness Tips
Check Your Heating System
Cold weather can be a risk to health, particularly for the elderly or people who have health conditions. Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections and the colder conditions thicken blood and increase blood pressure.
Ideally, You should heat your home to a temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit, 18 degrees Celsius. During cold spells make sure you keep windows closed at night. If windows are left open it can cause a significant drop in the temperature indoors.
It’s a good idea to keep handy some emergency warm winter clothing, blankets and or sleeping bags, just in case the heating fails completely.
Check Your Pipes Are Insulated
Ensuring that your pipes are properly insulated has two main benefits:
- You will keep more heat in which in turn will save you money.
- Insulating pipes reduces the risk of them becoming frozen and bursting causing flooding, damage and leave your home without water.
Know The Location Of Your Stop tap / Stopcock
Do you know where your stop tap (also called stopcock) is located?
If you don’t It’s something you should know so that you can turn off the water to your home quickly if there was a problem. For example due to a frozen or burst pipe. It could be located in a closet, cupboard, garage, basement or cellar.
Prevent Strong Winds From Causing Damage
In stormy weather, wind speed can cause items that you wouldn’t have thought of to become dangerous. Trees and branches can fall, roof tiles and guttering could become potentially lethal. Items of furniture in your garden can fly around in unpredictable windy conditions. This is also true of children’s toys and other items that can fly around causing damage and potential harm.
Make sure you put away any unneeded items and secure others to prevent them from causing damage to people and property during stormy conditions. Check any trees on your property for potential risks and also check your roof tiles and gutters are well maintained and secure.
Check If You Are At Risk Of Flooding
If you’re not already aware of any risk of flooding in the area you live you should check to see if you are at risk of flooding. If you live in an area at risk of flooding you should consider making a home emergency plan and learn about What To Do Before During And After A Flood.
Extreme winter weather can cause temporary power outage so make sure you have the following items in case this happens:
- Cell Phone.
- Lighter or Matches.
- Portable Charger.
- Spare batteries.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio for listening to local emergency instructions
Vehicle and Travel Winter Emergency Preparedness Tips
Check Your Tires
In severe winter weather conditions, it becomes extremely difficult and dangerous to drive a vehicle that has low tire tread levels. Make sure you have adequate tires and tread for the conditions you may have to drive in. Consider the use of winter tires and snow chains to make your journey safer.
Top Up Your Antifreeze Windshield Washer Fluid
Using windshield washer fluid will help to keep your windshield or windscreen free of dirt and winter road grime caused by road salting and gritting which can cause visibility issues. There is also the risk of a frozen windshield which is another reason to use anti-freeze windshield washer fluid and regularly check the levels.
Prepare A Winter Vehicle Survival Kit
Becoming stranded in your vehicle during winter months could be dangerous, so it’s important to prepare a winter vehicle survival kit. Your Kit should contain items such as an ice scraper, de-icer, jumper cables, shovel, blanket, and flashlight.
We recently created A Winter Vehicle Survival Kit Checklist for readers to help create a winter vehicle survival kit to keep in a vehicle.
Make An Alternative Travel Plan In Case Of Severe Weather
Consider making an alternative travel plan for how you might get to work in the event of severe weather. Think about alternative means of getting to work discuss them with your family and if appropriate with your employer so if the weather does turn you’re already prepared.
Don’t Forget About Your Pets
Don’t forget about your pets they can also suffer in extreme weather conditions. If your pet’s fur gets wet it will lose a lot of its ability to insulate and protect them from the cold. During the winter your pets will also need protecting from extreme temperatures. If you find it is too cold for you it’s most likely to be too cold for your pets. So make sure you can provide the following for your pets:
- Plenty of Food.
- Plenty of Water.
- Stock up on any medications they need for when you can’t get out for a while.
- A Warm, dry, and Draft Free Shelter.
Winter Emergency Preparedness Tips Conclusion
Taking these simple steps can go a long way to preparing you for winter weather conditions. If you are already prepared also consider helping to educate and prepare other family members, friends and neighbors especially if they are elderly.