Before a winter weather event
1. Monitor the weather
- Find a reliable source for severe weather information. Follow the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center (WPC) on Facebook or Twitter and your local NWS office. Tune in to local news often when winter weather is forecast.
- Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone.
- Purchase a weather alert radio that broadcasts emergency alerts from the National Weather Service, preferably one with a hand crank.
2. To help prevent pipes from freezing:
- Keep your thermostat always set to at least 55°F (12.8°C).
- Open cabinet doors where piping is present, especially when pipes are next to an outside wall.
- Let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather.
3. If you have an ice dam prevention system, turn it on before the snow starts to fall.
4. Ensure you have plenty of fuel for generators, snow removal equipment, and de-icing products for the walkways.
Following a winter weather event
Note: All do-it-yourself maintenance guidance is to be completed under safe operating conditions. If you don’t feel comfortable doing the work, it is best to hire a licensed contractor.
1. Begin removing snow right away
- Safety first! If it’s warm enough and safe to go outside, fresh snow is easiest to clear. Shovel after each snowfall.
- Shovel or use a snowblower to clear the front steps, sidewalks, and driveway of snow and ice.
- Keep a de-icing product on the walkways to prevent slips and falls.
- Clear snow from your home’s furnace exhaust vent.
2. Clean off your roof to prevent ice dams or snow load issues
- Clear the snow from your home, shed, and garage. For safe removal that won’t endanger you or damage your roof, hire a snow removal contractor.
3. In case of a power outage, follow these guidelines when using a generator:
- Using a generator poses certain risks that must be addressed for safe operation, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death to those operating the generator or inside the home.
- Proper ventilation is required to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator’s engine exhaust.
- Portable generator:
- Portable generators should be operated outside in a well-ventilated area. A garage may not provide enough ventilation. Use extreme caution when determining where to operate the generator.
- Portable generators should never be run unattended and should be checked periodically (review the manufacturer’s recommendations).
- Portable generators should not be fueled while hot.
- Do not let snow accumulate on top of a portable generator.
- Permanent Generator:
- Permanent generators are more self-sufficient but should be monitored periodically when they are operating.
4. Check for damage inside your home
- Watch for signs of snow load damage, such as creaking sounds, a sagging roof, cracks in the ceiling or walls, water stains and door or windows that no longer open and close correctly.
- If the water isn’t flowing, you may have frozen pipes. If you suspect frozen pipes, shut off the water supply and call a plumber to make repairs.
5. Assess any downed trees or large limbs
- If it’s on your driveway or property, call a tree care professional.
- If it’s on a road or sidewalk, call your municipal public works department.
- If a utility line is damaged or may become damaged, call the utility company. Stay away from any downed power lines.
6. If you find significant damage to your home
- Safety first
- Document any losses
- Contact your insurance agent
- If it’s safe to do so, remove property from damaged area
- Keep all receipts and documentation. Consider creating an electronic file for this information in a cloud storage account so you can access it from anywhere.