Four ways to prepare your home ahead of winter storms

Weather

Tractor-trailers are stacked up along the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 near East Airpark Road, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Aurora, Colo. A massive winter storm has closed roads throughout northeast Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(NewsNation) — Americans all across the U.S. are preparing for what has been described as a major winter storm, as forecasters warn of treacherous holiday travel and life-threatening cold for many in the nation.

From potentially record-low temperatures to rare and hazardous arctic air mass, the days leading up to Christmas this holiday season impose challenges for much of the Northeast, Northwest and Midwest regions.

Whether designated to hit your town or not, NewsNation has compiled a list of tips from trusted officials on how best to prepare your home for a winter storm this cold season and the ones ahead.

Protect Pipes Before They Freeze

Home improvement site Today’s Homeowners stresses that one of the main things to consider when bracing for winter storm are the water pipes, as “frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes.” 

Their list of tips includes:

  • Insulate exposed pipes (both hot and cold) under house with foam pipe insulation.
  • Open the cabinet doors under sinks.
  • Drip hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath. Drip single-control faucets with the lever set in the middle.
  • Set the icemaker to make ice if the water line to it runs under the house.
  • Don’t forget to check on pipes to your washing machine in the laundry room
  • Locate water main cut-off valve, and have a cut-off key handy.
  • Use a hairdryer, heat lamp, electric heat tape, or a portable space heater to thaw frozen pipes that have not burst.
  • Keep the faucet open when thawing frozen pipes to allow water to begin flowing through it.

Weatherproof Your Home

Along with protecting your pipes, it is imperative to ensure the rest of the home is equally protected. According to the CDC, there are a list of checks on can go over to be proactive against power failures and loss of communication services, which is common for homes during these times.  

  • Caulk and weather strip doors and windows.
  • Insulate walls and attic.
  • Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm.

Have a Winter Kit on Hand

Preparing for the worst is also a must when heading into a severe winter storm as meteorologists have predicted this holiday weekend.

Last year, millions of Texans were left without heat in freezing cold temperatures for days, resulting in hundreds of deaths. In the aftermath, The Texas Tribune came up with tips on how to prepare in the future, which included having a winter kit on hand “complete with a one- to two-week supply of nonperishable food and water for your family and pets.”

The CDC suggest having an emergency car kit full of the items below:

  • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
  • Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets
  • Windshield scraper
  • Shovel
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water and snack food
  • First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife
  • Tow chains or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
  • Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice
  • Booster cables with fully charged battery or jumper cables
  • Hazard or other reflectors
  • Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
  • Road maps
  • Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

One of the most important safety measures that came up across the board — from the CDC to Today’s Homeowner —  is the importance of a carbon monoxide detector, as portable generators are often a go-to when the lights go out.

One of the worst bouts of carbon monoxide poisoning in recent history occurred during Texas’s winter storm last year because some homes and apartments were not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

The CDC list the following to best prepare:

  • If you’ll be using a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
  • Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside.
  • Each winter season have your furnace system and vent checked by a qualified technician to ensure they are functioning properly.

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