Taking the time to prepare for a winter snow storm shouldn’t happen after the weather man has already announced that the storm is on its way. But if you forgot to plan ahead for a snow storm and ice, and you have at least a few hours before it arrives, it’s not too late to prepare your home, your car and yourself.
Getting your home ready for the snow storm
To get your house ready for a winter storm, start with the basics. Do you have a snow shovel and ice melt? If not, buy them now. They will be marked up if the storm is looming on the horizon, but you might need them.
If you waited to the absolute last minute and the store is out of ice melt, consider picking up a bag of cheap clay kitty litter. The clay can help melt the ice, but more importantly, it will give you traction on top of it. Remember this for when we get to the car section.
Is your house already well-insulated against the cold? Winter snow storms are often accompanied by temperatures that are well-below zero and stay that way for extended periods of time. If you haven’t already done so, spend a couple hours winterizing your home.
Do you have exposed pipes? Pick up some heat wrap, it looks like tape, and wrap those vulnerable lines. It’s also a good idea to leave at least one sink dripping when the temperatures fall well below freezing. While at the store for ice melt, pick up a couple gallons of drinking water, just to be safe.
Check your emergency candles and flashlights. Do you have matches or extra batteries? Do the flashlights work? Buy an extra set of batteries for each flashlight and store them close to the flashlights.
Next, it’s time to look at your heat source. If the power goes out during the snow storm and stays that way, will your family be warm? Most newer gas furnaces have an electric ignition switch, so even with a gas heater, the house may get really cold if the electricity goes out. Have a plan in case it becomes too cold to stay at home.
Getting your car ready for the snow storm
In the final hours before a predicted winter storm, it seems like everyone is out getting gas. And, if your tank isn’t full, you should join the line.
While a full tank won’t automatically save you from frozen fuel lines, it can help. In the middle of the snow storm, if you have to leave your house to seek shelter elsewhere, you don’t want to have to try to get gas as well. While you’re there, top of the wiper fluid as nothing hampers visibility faster than dirty, salt-covered windows.
Consider buying a can or two of de-icer. These can be a lifesaver when the car gets iced over and you need to see out the front windshield, or if the locks are frozen. A word of caution though: De-icer doesn’t help if it’s inside the iced-over car.
Buy a 20-lb bag of cheap cat litter and put it in the trunk. Yes, you need the really big bag. First, it adds weight to the rear end of the car. Try to place it as close over the tires are you can. Second it can provide traction when spread over ice. But if you need traction for all four wheels, you need a lot of kitty litter.
Consider the option of ammonium nitrate if you have a local feed store where you can buy it. This fertilizer creates a chemical reaction when dumped on ice. Rock salt only works to a certain temperature, but the chemical reaction will work to temperatures well below freezing.
Buy a cheap backpack and stuff it with bottled water and non-perishable foods. Poptarts are always an easy option as are granola bars or energy bars. Keep this along with some extra blankets, extra gloves and a small shovel in the backseat of the car. If you keep it in the trunk, the water will likely freeze.
Getting yourself ready for the snow storm
Stop by the library and pick up a couple books to read if the cable goes out or the power goes off. If you have children at home, think about grabbing some videos or board games to keep them occupied during the storm.
Stop at the grocery store and buy the makings for sandwiches, even if it’s just peanut butter and jelly, in case you lose power and can’t cook.
Finally, treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate and settle in to ride out the snow storm. After all, your prepared and ready for it. Now, you can just enjoy the silence.