The winter storm has passed and snow flurries have subsided. Fresh powder sits outside of your house and the kids are urging you to let them go outside to make snowmen, have snowball fights, and they even want you to fire up the four-wheel drive for sledding. But before the fun happens, how can you make sure you’re safe following the storm?
Blizzards come quickly and the aftermath lingers, whether that means power outages, snow pile-up, cold temperatures or other natural elements. Here’s what you need to know:
The Safety Issues
The main barriers that will be present after a winter storm is debris and weather related obstacles.
The bulk of your preparation should be taken before a storm ever happens, including packing an emergency kit and collecting all necessary supplies.
Avoid a Collapsing Roof
A roof is at risk of collapse whenever there’s too much heavy snow pile-up. The standard amount of snow a roof can hold is 20 pounds per square foot of snow.
If your roof has accumulated too much snow, you may need to remove it with a snow rake. These have long extension arms that allow you to remove snow while standing on the ground. You can also hire a snow removal contractor. Disaster Safety provides a good guide to know how much snow is too much.
Rest When Shoveling
If you’re shoveling snow, always take time to rest. Snow shoveling for older adults is a leading cause of heart attacks.
Call 911 if chest pain persists, and never shovel snow with your back. You don’t want to get injured while cleaning the home.
While you shovel, make sure to push the snow instead of lifting it up. If you must lift, use your legs.
Heat the Home Safely
Never run a generator in the home. This can lead to CO poisoning, the silent and odorless killer. This same logic applies to cars, or anything that burns natural gas, wood, propane, or other appliances.
Never use methods to heat the home that aren’t meant to heat the home, including stoves and charcoal grills.
Keep space heaters away from sofas, beds, curtains, magazines, and anything that burns. Never leave space heaters unattended.
Clear Outdoor Debris
One of the most important steps after a storm will be to clear outdoor debris around the house. Clear outdoor vents so they don’t get clogged, because they can shut down or send carbon monoxide back into the home. This includes gas vents, furnace vents, and dryer exhaust vents.
Make sure to put salt and sand around the home so you can walk around without threat from black ice. And dig out fire hydrants, because this can mean the difference between a quick or slow response from emergency personnel.
Downed trees also pose a threat. They may be tangled with wires and can cause a dangerous electric situation. Trees are also still capable of falling days after a blizzard due to ice and snow that can bring them down.
Don’t Drive Until It’s Safe
Don’t drive unless it’s safe to do so. Check out the driving tips that Triple A provides. This is a good resource for proper driving protocol after a winter storm. If you are driving, consider the hazards that may be present on the road.
Have an NOAA weather radio, especially if there has been an outage, and listen to what weather reports and local authorities are saying. They know best. Don’t ignore their warnings.
Cover Up and Stay Hydrated
It’s pretty certain that you’re going to go outside and have some fun in the snow. The kids will demand it. But get them bundled up and well nourished. You can even get dehydrated in the winter!
Don’t expose yourself to the cold for long periods of time, and stay hydrated and well fed.
Curb Severe Weather Stress
Severe weather can cause stress and anxiety for younger kids. They may not understand what’s going on, why they’re stuck inside, or why new dangers and variables like the cold and no power have presented themselves. Comfort them and let them know that this is normal and everything will be okay.