Winter Storm Preparedness Checklist

Winter season can be a wonderful time of year, but it’s not all snowflakes and hot cocoa. Winter storms can cause severe weather conditions that are characterized by strong winds, heavy snow, and below-freezing temperatures.

During a winter storm, you may be stuck at home for several days. You may even experience a power outage—after all, power outages from severe weather have doubled in the past two decades in the United States.

Storm preparation planned ahead of time can set you up to be safe and cozy while you wait out the cold weather. Below, we’ll provide a helpful winter storm preparedness checklist and winter storm safety tips to help you do just that. We’ll also discuss what to do and not to do during a winter storm.

Winter Preparedness Checklist for Home: What Do I Need to Prepare for a Winter Storm?

Winter storm preparedness is all about setting up your home to be warm, dry, and safe, despite the external conditions. You also want to make sure you have all the necessary supplies and equipment on hand to endure whatever comes your way.  

To that end, here’s a list of things you can do to be ready for a winter storm:

#1 Set Up Weather Alerts on Your Smartphone

Knowing the exact status of a storm can help you get what you need before the streets are icy, the store shelves are empty, and travel is no longer advised.

Luckily, setting up a winter weather advisory and alerts on your smartphone is a breeze. You should be able to do so within your settings. Once your winter weather public safety alerts are set up, you can receive timely notifications from the National Weather Service.

Here are the three tiers of winter storm warnings they issue:

  • Winter storm outlook – Outlook warnings are typically given out three to seven days before a potential storm is expected. While storm outlooks don’t guarantee a storm will hit, they can give you ample time to start preparing for one.
  • Winter storm watch – Watch warnings are issued 24 to 72 hours before a storm. These warnings have certainty thresholds of 50% to 80%, indicating that a storm is likely. They also provide more details about the potential weather conditions of the storm, whether that’s a blizzard, heavy sleet, or freezing rain.
  • Winter storm warning – Warning alerts are the most serious and imminent. They’re typically initiated 12 to 24 hours before the storm hits. They’re meant to prompt swift preparation for weather conditions that may cause significant, potentially life-threatening problems if “caution is not exercised.”

#2 Stock Up on Supplies

During a severe winter storm, you won’t be able to stop by the grocery store or shopping center. In turn, you need to ensure you have the following essentials ready to go:

  • Food – It’s a good idea to have a week or more of food stockpiled before a winter storm arrives. Non-perishable items can be a lifesaver if your refrigerator or freezer goes out during a power outage.
  • Water – Another essential item you want to have at home in abundance is water. Bottled water can save the day if your tap water ends up freezing due to extreme cold conditions.
  • Toiletries and first aid supplies – The worst time to discover that you’re out of toilet paper or toothpaste is during a winter storm. Reviewing your bathroom cabinets beforehand can help you ensure you have all the items you’ll need for the next week or so, as well as any missing first aid supplies.
  • Medications – Just as grocery store pit stops may be out of the question for some time, so will trips to the pharmacy. As a result, it’s crucial to make sure you have enough medication on hand to get you through the next seven days or so.
  • Pet food – In the hustle and bustle of preparing for a winter storm, it’s easy to overlook your pets. However, they need supplies too. As you shop for yourself and your family, make sure to get food for your furry friends.
  • Flashlights – If the power goes out during the storm, you’ll appreciate having some alternative lighting sources on hand. Flashlights, camping lanterns, and candles are all viable options. Just be careful with candles—unattended candle flames can cause house fires, which are much more common during the winter months.
  • Batteries – From flashlights to your space heater, many of the devices you rely on during a storm will run on batteries. For this reason, you’ll want to purchase a few backup batteries for the occasion.

#3 Take Stock of Your Heating Options

When the outside temperatures are below freezing, staying warm inside can be a challenge. It’s helpful to have multiple heating options at your disposal in case your primary one falls through. In which case, here are a few heating methods you can employ:

  • Furnaces
  • Portable space heaters
  • Indoor propane heaters
  • Firewood (if you have a wood-burning fireplace)
  • Wood stoves
  • A portable generator to keep the lights on and power in your home

Since you’ll likely rely on your furnace first, you may want to have your HVAC filters inspected and changed out in the fall. This way, your furnace will operate at peak efficiency.

Another tip to keep warm is to close doors to rooms you’re not using. This will prevent heat from escaping elsewhere unnecessarily.

#4 Waterproof Your Home

A winter storm could introduce unexpected moisture into your house if it's not properly insulated. In turn, you may want to:

  • Weather-strip your doors and windows
  • Consider installing thermal-pane windows, which offer superior insulation
  • Caulk any visible gaps or cracks in the walls
  • Have your roof inspected and repaired
  • Insulate any exposed water pipes

Speaking of pipes, letting your faucets drip continuously during a storm or extreme cold winter weather can prevent them from freezing.

#5 Bring Out the Extra Blankets

At best, having a bundle of blankets can transform a winter storm into a cozy experience. At worst, the extra insulation can keep you alive if cold temperatures dip well below freezing and your home’s heating system goes awry. An extra blanket can help buy you time until you can start the portable space heater.

#6 Charge Up Your Electronics

Since winter storms can cause power outages, it’s a good idea to fuel up your smartphone, laptop, tablet, and any other devices you want to use during the storm before it hits. Charge all your electronics before an extreme public safety power shutoff hits your area. Starting the storm with a full charge is much better than realizing you’re already down to 1% battery. You can also invest in a portable generator to have a source of power to charge your phones, and keep the lights on in the house.

#7 Print Out Important Information

If all your devices run out of battery, you may want to have some essential information printed out, such as the phone numbers of your family members, close friends, and doctors.

You may also want to have extra copies of your:

  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate
  • Social security card
  • Passport
  • Health insurance cards
  • Car registration and title
  • Property deed
  • Insurance policy numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Will and estate planning paperwork

Chances are, you won’t need to access these documents during the storm but having extra copies of them can be a relief if the weather causes any damage to your home.

#8 Set Up Your Snow Removal Supplies

Once the winter storm subsides, you’ll finally be able to venture out once again. When you do, you may find a giant pile of snow standing in your way. Thus, it’s paramount to double-check that you have a functioning snow removal equipment like a snowblower, shovel, and salt ready to go.

#9 Purchase a High-Quality Generator

One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for a winter storm is to buy a home backup generator.

Generators are one of those things that many people only think about purchasing once it’s too late. If the power goes out and you don’t have one yet, you may be left shivering inside without any heat or electricity.

A high-quality generator can power your entire home during a power outage, allowing you to enjoy all the comforts that electricity has to offer.

Note: Never bring your generator inside, as it could put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. You may also need to winterize a generator to prepare it for the extreme conditions.

What Should I Do During a Winter Storm?

Now that you know what steps to take to prepare for a winter storm, let’s review how you should spend your time while it's taking place.

During a winter storm, you should:

  • Stay inside at all times, unless there’s an emergency. Icy roads and extreme road conditions can be deadly.
  • Dress in layers to keep warm and cozy. You can easily develop frostbite or suffer from hypothermia.
  • Keep your indoor pets close by where it’s warm
  • Enjoy family time, board games, arts and crafts, and movie marathons
  • Keep up to date on evolving weather conditions through public safety advisories or the NOAA weather radio

On the other side, you should never:

  • Bring generators or grills inside
  • Sit in your car while it’s running without clearing out the heavy snow from your tailpipe
  • Heat your home with a stovetop or oven
  • Leave your home without letting someone know where you’re headed

Stay Warm in the Toughest Weather with DuroMax

If you’re ready to get a head start on your winter weather preparedness, DuroMax has you covered. Our reliable home backup generators can keep your home’s electricity up and running during winter storms and power outages.

As you now know, the best time to buy a generator is before a winter storm hits. Get started on your preparations and discover which DuroMax Power System is right for your home today.