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Winter Is Here, Are You Ready for a Storm?

Winter brings the potential for a winter storm. Here’s how to keep your home and family safe.

Man shoveling his driveway, how to be prepared for a winter storm

Snow can be beautiful. But there's nothing pretty about a serious winter storm. It can put everyone in danger.

If a winter storm is forecast to strike your area, read these tips to prepare.

Gather supplies

Think of what you and your family might need if you're without power for several days. Does anyone take medications? Make sure they have enough on hand. Do you have pets? Think of what they may need too. And be sure you have extra batteries for things like flashlights.

You never know when a storm might hit unexpectedly. Build a basic 72-hour kit using a checklist to keep in your home, car, and perhaps even at work.

If you notice a storm in the weather forecast, be sure to have a full tank of gas or think through other forms of transportation. And you’ll want to have a portable charger or backup batteries for the cell phones in your home so you can still communicate with everyone in your household—this is a first step in creating a emergency communication plan in case something happens during school or work hours.

Keep your home safe

Getting ready for a storm sometimes means thinking about alternative heat sources, such as a fireplace or space heater. Be sure to follow this safety advice:

• Don't turn on the stove to heat your home. That's dangerous. Instead, if the power goes out, wrap yourself in extra blankets, a sleeping bag, or a warm winter coat. Or use a space heater or a fireplace that is up to code.
• Keep electric space heaters at least three feet away from curtains, furniture, or bedding. Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. And don't cover your space heater.
• Never leave children alone near a space heater.
• Don't burn paper in a fireplace.
• If the lights go out, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns, not candles. If you must use candles, never leave lit ones unattended.
• If you use a generator, be sure it is located at least 20 feet from any window, door or vent, and it's in a space where it is protected from rain and snow.

Related: How to Be Prepared for a Natural Disaster

Protect your water supply

Very cold temperatures can cause water pipes in a home to freeze and sometimes break. When the weather calls for freezing temperatures:

• Leave all water taps slightly open so that they drip continuously.
• Keep temperatures inside your house warm.
• Open cabinet doors beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks so heated air can reach the pipes.
• If your pipes do freeze, thaw them slowly with a hair dryer—don't thaw them with a torch.

How have you prepared for a storm? Tell us on Facebook—we’d love to hear from you. And while you’re here, check out our other articles on healthy living.

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Federal Emergency Management Agency

SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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