Weather is one of the most potent, unpredictable forces humankind has to contend with every day. And as global climate crises escalate, people will inevitably face extreme weather conditions at a higher frequency than ever before.
When you think of natural disasters, hurricanes, wildfires, and tsunamis probably rush to the forefront of your mind. But blizzards are a force of nature that can pack a punch and cause significant damage and fatalities every year.
When facing a deadly snowstorm, knowledge and preparation go a long way. Here’s what you need to know to keep your family safe during a blizzard, whether at home or on the road.
Preparations Before a Blizzard
Adequate preparation is vital before a blizzard. This list of must-do steps is a great place to start.
A blizzard is an intense snowstorm characterized by high winds, low visibility, and sustained snowfall for at least 3 hours. Sometimes, it can last for days, increasing the risk of being snowed in, shutdowns of municipal services, and possibly even loss of power.
Having plenty of food, water, and supplies to last a few days is critical for survival. In addition to non-perishable foods, your emergency kit should include battery-powered lanterns or flashlights, plus a battery-powered radio so you can stay up-to-date on weather alerts in case power goes out.
Extra batteries, a first aid kit, and plenty of warm clothing and blankets are also necessary. It’s also wise to store additional hygiene supplies, like sanitary wipes and toilet paper.
Prepare the House
Your house and property require some specific attention before a blizzard. Stock up on deicing salt and sand, and sprinkle a generous amount on your sidewalks to encourage snowfall to melt.
If you haven’t done your routine gutter cleaning, try to rid any buildup of leaves from your gutters before the storm hits. It will minimize the risk to the structure of your home when snow begins to melt. Have your snow shovels handy!
Secure the Car
Keep your car in a garage or under an awning during a storm. If you don’t have access to this type of structural cover, try to park your vehicle in a location where you have easy access on all four sides.
After a blizzard, it’s almost certain that you’ll have to dig your car out of the snow, so being able to get around your vehicle is critical.
If you can, ensure the air pressure in your tires is adequate, as low air pressure can be hazardous on icy roads.
Plan for Emergencies
As we’ve discussed, you never know precisely how long a blizzard and the aftermath will last. It’s always best to plan for emergencies, including losing power.
Loss of power can be incredibly dangerous if you rely on electricity to heat your home. A backup power source, like one of the EcoFlow Delta Portable Power Stations, can help keep the heat running through an outage.
A RIVER 2 series Portable Power Station packs a potent punch and won’t take up much space in your backseat or trunk. But it can be invaluable for keeping your smartphone and other devices charged and ready if you get stuck on the road.
For RV owners, a setup like the EcoFlow Power Kits also can be an excellent way to integrate a backup power source with your vehicle’s onboard system.
During the Blizzard
You’ve done all you can to prepare for the impending storm. Now it’s time for the real test: getting through the blizzard. Here’s what to do during the storm to protect your family and property if you’re at home.
Stay Inside and Stay Warm
You should stay inside if you’re at home when the blizzard hits. Sheltering in place helps to keep you out of the cold, which can be fatal.
Staying indoors also keeps the heat inside your home and the cold out! Minimize opening and closing doors, and ensure all windows remain fully sealed.
If you have a dog, purchase some puppy pads or put down newspaper, so you don’t need to take your pet outside during the storm.
Keep All Exterior Doors Closed
Keeping doors shut significantly impacts the warmth in your home and can keep snow from blowing inside. However, the seal on some exterior doors may have deteriorated. Small cracks could allow cold air to seep through and cause loss of warm air.
Heat loss is especially likely due to the high winds of a blizzard. You can hang curtains or blankets over your doors to keep out cold air or roll up towels to cover any cracks along the bottom.
Layers are essential to staying warm during a blizzard. Wear multiple thin layers for maximum protection. Make sure your extremities, like feet and hands, are covered, especially if you’ll be walking around on cold tile floors inside.
Using Heating Appliances
Space heaters can help boost the warmth of confined spaces. To get the most out of a heater, close all adjacent doors to trap the hot air in a smaller space.
Snuggling up with family members and pets benefits everyone by sharing body heat. You can also use hand warmers, hot water bottles, and thick blankets to stay nice and toasty during a blizzard.
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If the power goes out, you may be tempted to power up a generator. Unfortunately, many of the generators used today are still gas-powered. Operating a gas generator inside is highly dangerous as it can lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Instead, look for solar generators or power stations that don’t emit fumes, such as EcoFlow’s River 2 Portable Power Stations. You can charge them using AC electricity or pair them with solar panels for clean, renewable energy. There are safe ways to power essential appliances inside during the storm — even during a power outage.
Monitor Weather Reports and Follow Instructions
You need to stay in the know during a blizzard. Whether through the internet, TV, or radio, stay up-to-date on the latest weather reports and advisories and abide by any directions from local authorities.
On the Road
Unfortunately, life doesn’t automatically pause because a storm rolls in. That means you may find yourself caught in a blizzard while on the road. This checklist will help you prepare for the worst and minimize risk if you’re travelling during a blizzard.
Check Local Weather Conditions
Knowing the weather along your travel path can help you choose the best route and seek shelter if necessary. Look up weather reports for where you are, where you’re heading, and the places you’ll pass along the way.
Listen to Local News Reports for Road Closure Updates
The last thing you want is to be stranded in a traffic jam during a blizzard due to a road closure. Again, listen to local radio stations to determine the best route.
If you don’t have access to a television or the local broadcast station isn’t coming in on your car radio, check the road closures in your province here.
Gather Supplies for Traveling in a Blizzard
Emergency kits are essential in cars, just like they are in houses. Keep battery-powered flashlights, food and water, extra blankets, and warm clothing in your vehicle. These emergency supplies can make a big difference if you get caught in a snowstorm.
Pay Attention to Road Signs and Conditions
It’s hard to drive during a snowstorm with your focus on the road ahead. But it’s still important to keep your eyes on road signs and conditions.
Highway authorities will update signs with information about road closures. Still, you should also use your own senses and observations to look for hazards like black ice, snowdrifts, and vehicles stranded on the side of the road.
Monitor Weather Reports While Traveling
Check local weather forecasts before your trip and tune in to local radio stations along your drive for updates. Conditions may shift quickly during a blizzard, so staying in the loop is imperative.
Here’s a list of emergency alert distributors in Canada.
Keep Your Vehicle Stocked with Supplies
Not only do you need supplies for yourself, but you should also invest in supplies for your vehicle. Car supplies may include a shovel and deicing salt to help dig your car out or scraps of carpet to use as added traction under your wheels if you get stuck in the snow. Invest in winterized tires before a snowstorm to limit danger if you can.
Take Breaks from Driving if Necessary
It can be extremely taxing to drive in a blizzard. It requires immense energy to focus and can be incredibly stressful. As such, know your limits and take breaks from driving when you feel fatigued.
Even if this sets you back time-wise, it’s better than making a wrong move in dangerous weather conditions because you were losing focus.
Pull Over Immediately If Visibility Is Too Low
If you can’t see clearly, it’s time to pull over. You’ll want to stay in your car if you pull over on the side of a highway. Other drivers can more easily see your vehicle than they can see you.
Staying in your vehicle helps keep you safe and warm, and it will make it easier to spot you if emergency help is needed.
Blizzards cause preventable deaths every year. But with some forethought and planning, you can stay safe the next time a blizzard is in the forecast. Keep your emergency kit stocked and backup power on hand with the EcoFlow Smart Home EcoSystem. With these precautionary measures, you and your family will be prepared to outlast the storm.