Winter storms aren’t all snowmen and snow angels.  As a semi-annual winter storm prepares to bear down on the Piedmont (along with a large swath of the East), we thought it would be a good tie to review some tips for getting your home and automobiles ready for snow and ice storms.

Auto Tips for Winter Storms

With 70% of deaths related to winter storms involving automobiles, it’s extremely important to make sure you know what to do if you have to deal with being in your car with copious amounts of snow and ice on the roads.

  • First and foremost, don’t drive unless you have to.
  • Keep a blanket, first aid kit, bottled water, food and warm clothing like gloves and a coat in the car.  A sleeping bag isn’t a bad idea either, just in case.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged before you go out.  Make sure to take a charger with you too.
  • If you belong to AAA or another auto club, make sure you have the number in your phone.  You might want to add your insurance agent’s phone number too.
  • Stick to main roads.  Not only are they more likely to be in better condition for driving, but if you do get into a mishap, you’re more likely to be spotted.
  • Clear snow and ice off of your car, including the lights.
  • Make sure you’re topped off on gas, oil and antifreeze.
  • Make sure your tires aren’t worn down and consider getting snow tires if that’s feasible.

In the unlikely case that you’re trapped in your car and not within sight of a safe place to go, here are some things you should do to stay safe in case you’re stranded.

  • First, see the second tip above.
  • Don’t wander off.  People will be more likely to see your car than they will you walking around in the snow.
  • Leave a large, noticeable message.  You can stomp out HELP in the snow or clear off SOS on your windshield.
  • Run the heat (with the engine on) ten minutes every hour.
  • If you have someone with you, take turns sleeping so you don’t miss any help that might be passing by.
  • Keep the light on at night so people can find the car more easily.
  • Cover yourself with anything; books, floor mats, napkins, to keep warm.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear so you don’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Home Tips for Winter Storms

Obviously you’ll go to the store to buy bread and milk, but there are a number of things you can do to prep your actual house to avoid damage caused by the snow, ice and resulting water.

  • Clean out the gutters.
  • Trickle water from your faucets.
  • Shut off water valves and disconnect hoses.
  • Check your insulation.  Caulk and weather strip windows and doors.
  • If you’re not using the fireplace, close the flue.
  • Make sure nothing is blocking any heat vents.
  • Wrap any pipes and water heaters you can with insulating blankets.

There are several things that take a little more advanced preparation, but can also help quite a bit.

  • Remove any branches that could get weighed down by ice and fall on a car, a house or any other structure.
  • Have a contractor inspect your roof to make sure it can handle the weight of snow and ice.
  • Add insulation to walls and and attics.
  • Insulate the attic floor.
  • Make sure your attic is ventilated.

Of course, if you do have any damage to your car or home, call your insurance agent (that should be us) as soon as you can.  During ice storms and other natural disasters, insurance claim activity tends to jump up dramatically.

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