The Blizzard of 2015 sure did make its mark here in Northwest Indiana. Many across the region are still digging out from this record breaking storm. Even though schools, municipalities, and businesses throughout the area were closed, many others still had to make the trek in this crazy weather. Did you know the National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm? Instead, people die on icy roads and of hypothermia from the prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.
One way you can do this is by winterizing your home.
– Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
– Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
– Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
– Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
– All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
– Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
– Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
– Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
– Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
But now that the storm has already hit, what do we do after? Try the tips below:
– If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
– Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
– Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Storms like this one give us an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, or to be better prepared next time. Here’s a few things to remember:
– Restock your emergency supplies to be ready in case another storm hits.
– Assess how well your supplies and family plan worked. What could you have done better?
– Take a few minutes to improve your family plan and supplies before the next winter storm hits.
– Talk to your neighbors and colleagues about their experiences and share tips with each other.