Winter is coming and you need to ensure you have all the necessities to keep you and your family safe. These winter storms can knock out power, freeze water pipes, and leave you and your family under brutal circumstances. That is exactly why you need to be ready. Remember: there is no such thing as being over-prepared. Here are 10 things you can do to keep your family safe during the winter storm.

1. Reinforce your Home

The last thing we want is to bring the blizzard inside your home. Before the storm arrives, do a quick sweep of your home and check for any vulnerabilities. There may be missing or loose shingles on your roof that could lead to irreversible damage. It is also important to double check every single point of entry, including windows, and make sure that there is no air draft sneaking through and chilling up your home. If you spot any of these vulnerabilities, make a quick run to your local hardware store and safely make the replacements.

2. Prepare your Heating Spaces

Whether you have a fireplace or some sort of space heater, it is important to first familiarize yourself with your equipment and make sure they are clean. If you have a fireplace, it is crucial to know how to efficiently start a fire, so having plenty of matches and firewood available will be key. Also, take this opportunity to clean your fireplace. Ash and debris pose as a serious fire hazard. If you have a space heater, know exactly how they function and read their manuals to be ready to troubleshoot any problems that may occur. For both fireplaces and space heaters, clear any flammable objects within a 3 feet radius.

Never bring any outside appliances indoors or cars in garages to warm your homes. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to death from carbon monoxide poisoning

A strong heat source is your first step to surviving the storm. You should understand the signs of hypothermia. Pay close attention to your children and other family members and look for early signs. Early detection could mean life or death. 

3. Have Backup Drinking Water 

Access to safe drinking water is one of the most important necessities during a winter storm. In case water pipes freeze, have fresh drinking water stored away in clean containers and ensure they are easily accessible. You should have at least 5 days of drinking water for you and your family – 1 gallon per day per person.

If water pipes freeze, fill your bathtub with snow to be used for a variety of reasons, like flushing your toilets. After boiling this water for 10 minutes it can be used for bathing, washing dirty dishes, and safe drinking water for animals. You should avoid drinking this type of water but  if you run out of fresh drinking water, melted and boiled snow would be your next safest option.

4. Stock your Food Pantry

It is never a bad idea to have extra food lying around, especially in a winter storm. Your body will need lots of energy to keep you warm and safe during these blizzards. Take inventory of all your current canned goods and stock up. You want, at a minimum, a week’s worth of food for each person in your home.

Some of the best canned products to have include:

  • Vegetables (green beans, peas, and carrots)
  • Fruits (peaches and oranges)
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Protein (tuna, salmon, and jerky).

Don’t forget about our furry friends either! It is always important to have an emergency bag of pet food safely stored away in case of disasters. 

5. First-Aid Kit

What says winter storm preparedness, like having an accessible first-aid kit. Every single home should have one for any type of injury that may occur. Within every first-aid kit, there should be a variety of basic supplies to treat scrapes, cuts, burns, and bites. Double check your kits before the storm hits and restock accordingly.

6. Fuel’s Gold

Understand what kind of energy your home runs on. Some homes may be electric while others are fuel-based. If your home is fuel-based, make sure you have enough that will last you 2 weeks. It never hurts to have spare fuel stored in a safe area. In addition to fueling up your home, top off your cars and have a full tank of gas ready to go. 

If you use a gas stove or barbeque for cooking,  it is beneficial to have several propane tanks safely in storage. Be sure to have an emergency cooking kit to protect your household for unforeseen events. Safety note: you should never rely on these pieces of equipment for additional heating as it raises alarm for carbon monoxide poisoning and creates a fire hazard.  

7. Important Tools

Depending on where you are, you always need to have the right basic tools readily accessible. A shovel or snow plow can be your best friend in times like these. Winter storms can pile many feet of snow, blocking important entryways to your home. Make sure they are placed in a storage unit that you can easily get to so you can avoid digging through piles of snow with your bare hands. 

Other tools like hand crank flashlights and survival knives are reliable options that can be used for a variety of circumstances during these tough times.

8. Bundles of Blankets

Obviously, it can get very cold during a blizzard so having heavy and cozy blankets around is a must. Huddle around with your family and form a circle with several blankets on top to optimize trapping as much heat as possible. One of the best survival blankets to have is a space blanket, which traps and reflects light and heat to keep you nice and toasty. At night, use sleeping bags to ensure you’ll be safe and warm. 

Heavy layers will be key. Grandma’s ugly birthday sweaters will finally have a use! Go ahead and throw those on and put on several layers of socks and gloves, as these will be the parts of your body that get cold the fastest. 

9. Things to Keep you Busy 

Once you secure yourselves in your homes during a winter blizzard, the only thing you and your family can do is to wait and let the storm pass. It can get pretty boring, so use this time as an opportunity to pick up that hobby you’ve set aside. Blow the dust off that guitar, pick up some paint brushes or that old book and start revisiting some old memories. Have some playing cards or board games lying around to keep your kids busy and distracted. 

10. Support Your Community 

This, in my opinion, is one of the most important ways to keep you and your family safe. Dark times are the ones when you look towards family, friends, and loved ones for help. It’s crucial to have people in your life with which you can depend on and lean on for assistance. Be that beam of light in your community and check in on your neighbors before, during, and after the storm. Offer help whenever you can and form a safe place in your neighborhood. The love and compassion will be reciprocated and will form life-long bonds.