In the past five years, the United States has had four severe winter storms or weather events that have caused over $1 billion in damage. These storms caused damage all over the United States, even in places that historically don't experience freezing temperatures, snow and ice. Frigid temperatures and winter precipitation can cause pipes to burst and roofs to collapse. In the worst cases, winter storms can also result in injuries and death.
Winter storm preparedness can help prevent costly damage to homes and businesses. Most importantly, when you take time to prepare for winter storms, you can save lives.
The Dangers of Winter Storms
While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) keeps track of storms that cause billions of dollars in damage, small winter storms can also be devastating. When temperatures drop and ice and snow build up, furnaces work overtime, roads and sidewalks become slippery, and life gets more challenging. Ice storms can cause power outages, and extreme temperatures can endanger life.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), death rates during the winter months are up to 12% higher than in the other seasons. With more people inside, respiratory diseases transmit more successfully. According to the EPA, cold temperatures can exacerbate chronic health conditions and cause more heart attacks from changes in blood circulation. Thanks to climate changes, frostbite and hypothermia have become concerns for people who live in areas of the U.S. that traditionally haven't been subject to extreme cold.
To combat cold temperatures, many homeowners turn to their fireplaces, which can create potentially dangerous situations when chimneys are clogged. Lighting candles during power outages also creates the potential for fire damage.
Winter storms also create dangerous driving conditions. Slippery roads and white-out conditions put drivers and their passengers in danger. Preparing your car for winter driving can be just as important as preparing your home, especially if you need to drive to work when the weather turns.
Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather
Preparing your home for winter weather involves a few steps that can prevent catastrophic and costly damage.
Take Care of Your Attic and Roof
You can take steps to prevent roof damage and problems relating to icicles. If you have tree branches that hang over your roof, remove them before winter hits and ice builds upon them. To avoid problems with icicles building up along your eaves and roof, insulate your attics and walls. If you have roof leaks, take care of them before winter, so you don't have to worry about the leaks expanding as the temperature drops and rises.
Prep the Interior of Your Home
One of the most important things you can do to protect your home from cold-weather damage is to insulate your interior pipes. Any water lines and pipes near exterior walls could potentially freeze when the temperature drops and stays below freezing. Purchase foam rubber insulation and cover your pipes.
You can also reduce your utility costs by adding weatherstripping and caulk to windows and doors. Some people also add removable plastic weatherproofing window insulation for added protection from the cold.
To be sure your furnace is ready for the cold weather, hire an HVAC company to do a furnace checkup and cleaning. Finally, be sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly by testing them before winter strikes.
Maintain Your Fireplace and Chimney
Another important consideration for all homeowners is to have a chimney inspection to prevent fires and smoke damage in your home. Fireplaces can be dangerous, especially if you have a clogged chimney or an issue with your flue. Add smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors near your fireplace. You can also help protect your home by purchasing a dry-chemical fire extinguisher to keep near your fireplace.
Prepare Your Car for Winter Storms
If you rely on your car in the winter months, you can keep your family safe by preparing your car for winter storms. It's important to carry a windshield scraper and snow brush in your car because you need to have visibility while driving. Check that your headlights and tail lights work properly, too.
So you can communicate in case of an emergency, keep your smartphone charged and have a portable battery pack in case you get stuck and your car cannot charge your phone. Also, pack a flashlight, battery-powered radio, and a first-aid kit. Many winter drivers also pack a blanket, extra hats, mittens and other winter clothing. Bring bottled water and snacks in your car when you leave your home. Remember, if you leave bottled water in your car, it could freeze.
For additional safety on the road, add jumper cables, tow chains, and emergency flares. To stay safe on the road, try not to let your fuel level drop below 50%.
Protect Your Family and Pets
Another important consideration during the winter months is to pay close attention to weather forecasts and reports. If you have school-age children, you'll want to know if school is canceled because of the weather. You can get automatic alerts from schools and local news stations so you know as soon as your children's school announces a closure.
If your children have to go outside, dress them appropriately for the temperature. Children need coats, hats, boots and mittens when the temperatures drop to near or below freezing.
If you have pets, do not leave them outside when the cold temperatures drop. Any pets that do stay outside for prolonged periods of time need water, appropriate shelter, and covers for their feet.
Invest in Notion Sensors To Protect Your Home and Family
When winter weather strikes, you can be prepared by installing Notion Sensors in key areas of your home. The sensors can also tell you if the temperatures drop below freezing (or your set temperature threshold) inside of your home near your water lines. Notion Sensors placed in the cabinets below your sinks will alert you if you have water leak. Homeowners and landlords can trust Notion Sensors will alert them through the smartphone app as soon as the sensors detect a problem. Winter weather preparedness can prevent costly problems and save you stress during the cold season.