During the past summer, I found myself unprepared for a severe summer storm that left my home without power during very hot days. Everyone hopes they won't need to do any prep, but it only takes one bad storm to make you wish you had done a few simple things ahead of time.
1. Purchase canned foods or items that will not need to be cooked to consume. This seems pretty logical, but you would be surprised how many people have plenty of food in the home but then cannot heat or cook it so they are left with very little to choose from.
If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove or gas fireplace, you could heat some foods. I would advise against trying to cook meat in a gas fireplace though-I would only use a gas fireplace to heat up food a little if you really felt you must!
Having these extra food items is not wasted money. Purchase foods you would eat eventually anyway. Canned foods have long shelf lives and don't have to be expensive. Also, if it is cold enough that you are dealing with an ice or snow storm, remember you should be able to store your food in your garage or on a porch if the electric to your refrigerator is out. Just watch out for animals if it is outside. Most pictures feature alcohol in snow-but you can use this same principle for your normal food!
2. Locate your snow and ice supplies ahead of time. This includes knowing where your shovel is (and hat, gloves, scarves, coats, boots, etc.) If you would happen to lose power, sometimes these items are stored in places we cannot see well. I still haven't found my snow shovel yet because I never had time to do my fall garage cleaning and it is buried under tremendous mounds of stuff.
If you have rock salt and you are expecting freezing rain and ice, you can pre-treat your driveway, porch, walkways and sidewalks. Place a little extra salt behind and in front of your car's tires. This will both help limit the ice and give you a bit of traction to get yourself going.
3. Prepare your car for snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. The first tip, leave your windshield wipers pulled up and away from the windshield. This will prevent the rubber from freezing to your windshield and getting damaged from trying to move when stuck. Car batteries get drained far easier and faster in colder temperatures, so be sure your close all of your doors all the way and do not leave any interior lights on.
Get windshield wiper fluid with a much lower freezing point. Sometimes you can help your windshield defrost faster by using the fluid on the ice and snow already there.
Don't forget to bring your ice scraper out of the car before expecting snow or ice. I can't tell you how many times I have needed or wanted my scraper and it was locked inside (or worse frozen) the car.
Another tip that I have to remind myself of is make sure you remove bottled drinks when it is below freezing outside. This includes soda in cans and 2 liters (both of which I have had leak in my car this winter).
A friend shared an idea she found from Pinterest with me a few weeks ago. Buy pantyhose and fill them with rock salt. Throw the pantyhose up on your roof just above your gutter so that as ice or snow start to melt, it will dissolve some of the salt with it as it travels down. It will then get salty water in your gutter to help thaw what is already there or keep new water from freezing.
5. Plans for heat and light. If you would have a power outage having heat and light are going to be important. I always try to keep some spare batteries in my home, a few flashlights, and lots of candles and matches. Candles will help you with both heat and light for your home.
If you are fortunate enough to have a gas fireplace, you will want to likely spend most of your time in the room with the fire. Just make sure you have proper ventilation and you have opened the top of your fireplace so the fumes that are dangerous can escape. Heat rises, so you might also find that one of the rooms upstairs is warmer. Blinds and drapes help insulate the inside from the outside of the window-so keep these things closed to help keep in the most heat possible.
6. Care for you pets. You are going to want to be sure that you have proper accommodations for your pets during a winter storm. If you have an outdoor dog, you should strongly consider allowing them in the house-or at least the garage or basement away from the harsher outdoor elements. Dog coats and blankets are also going to help your pet feel more comfortable. Make sure their water is fresh and not frozen as well. Keeping a little path shoveled for the will help them not get too cold from snow getting stuck to their body.