Snow joking – winter is here! Are you ready?

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Laura Parker

RALEIGH — Mild winters in the Tar Heel state are part of the reason this is a great place to live. But every once in a while, we get socked. Ice and power outages are the biggest problems, so getting your home ready for winter means more than getting out the sleds and putting on a pot of chili.Focus First On PowerArranging for backup power is a key component in preparing for winter weather. Power loss can have a negative and cascading effect on the home that amplifies existing health and safety risks. Ice buildup is one of the most frequently occurring and potentially paralyzing winter storm hazards. The weight of ice can bring down power lines and tree limbs, causing widespread power outages. According to, only ½ in. of ice can add 500 lb. to the weight of a tree branch, and a 2009 ice storm that affected northern Arkansas to the Ohio Valley resulted in power outages affecting 1.3 million people. Additionally, roof and water damage can be costly but can be avoided by properly preparing the exterior of your home for harsh winter weather.
Invest in a portable generator to keep critical home systems running automatically in the event of a power outage. Make sure you keep any gas powered generators outside. Ensure you have an outdoor extension cord and gasoline to use the generator. Calculate what appliances are needed in a power outage and how much energy they use when searching for a generator. Trim long tree branches to reduce the risk of power outages and home damage. Long tree branches often snap under the weight of heavy snow and ice.Clear gutters along the roofline to avoid costly water damage. If ice builds up in the gutter, it could cause damage, including leakage into the home.Cover window wells with plastic to prevent melting snow from seeping into the basement.Keep exterior chimneys and vents clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire hazard. This includes the dryer vent.Clear an exterior area for safe use of a portable generator. If you’re using a portable generator, it’s important to use it safely. Never operate a portable generator inside the home or in a garage. According to Art Aiello, a generator expert with Generac Power Systems, people should use their generators a safe distance from window, doors and openings, since carbon monoxide could enter the home. “Generators were never intended to be used indoors, even in a garage with the door opened.”Get To The Garage, And Make The Garage Easy To Get ToMaintenance tools that are important to storm safety and cleanup are commonly stored in the garage. They may not be used often but are vital when extreme weather causes a power outage, slippery surfaces and freezing temperatures. Make sure these items are available and in working order.
Automobile winterization should include a full tank of gas, windshield wiper fluid, a blanket, water, flashlights, extra batteries, a snow brush and sand for traction.Shovels and ice scrapers should be within easy reach inside the garage area.Sand, salt and ice melt are necessary for clearing the driveway, front walk and steps as well as clearing a pathway to a portable generator when operated outside and away from the house.The Kitchen As the Go-To RoomThe kitchen a priority is the heart of the home and is where family has access to food, water and first aid. Ample supplies should be available throughout the course of the storm and initial clean up.
A three day supply of food and water for the family is recommended. That goes for pets, as well. Wells are often connected to the hard wire of the home, and fresh water may not be accessible during a power outage. A first aid kit should be easily accessible in a kitchen cabinet. It should contain bandages, alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment and a thermometer.Open kitchen cabinet doors under the kitchen sink during a power outage to allow warm air to circulate and keep pipes from freezing.The Bathroom For EmergenciesRunning out of medications can be disastrous when wintry conditions preclude a trip to the pharmacy. The medicine cabinet should be appropriately stocked to run the course of the storm and initial clean up.
A three day supply of medications, including over-the-counter and prescription medicine is recommended.Store water for flushing the toilet if the home is on a septic system to eliminate the risk of the toilet backing up into the house.The Home Office As Command CentralWhen emergencies occur during extreme winter weather, it is imperative to have vital information and documentation available at a moment’s notice. The home office is a go-to destination for storage of physical copies of important documents.
Vital personal documents should be kept together and include a list of medications and other pertinent medical information, deed/or lease to your home, birth certificates, insurance policies, family and emergency contact information.According to the National Weather Service, as of Thursday night, the central piedmont to the northern coastal plains are expected to have a snow accumulation of three to five inches, and five to seven inches locally, starting Friday night to Saturday night.