Winter Weather Series: Ice and Snowstorms

With most of the U.S. getting ready for some upcoming winter weather, I am sharing some suggestions for beating the winter blues and blahs. With the cold, comes inevitable snowstorms, ice-storms and other more than average weather systems. Here are some tips and pointers to assist before, during and after a winter storm.

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  1. Make sure your insurance is up to date, and that acts of God are all covered. Proper annual review of your insurance is always an asset, and you should review these with and without your insurance broker to make sure that there are no unpleasant surprises when disaster strikes.
  2. Make sure that you have plenty of salt, sand or supplies in order to make sure than ice does not become a major problem. The last thing you need to have happen is for you or another person slip and slide. Make sure that your insurance covers falls in case of a problem—before the storm.
  3. Make sure that you have plenty of gasoline in your car. Make sure that you have a brush and window scraper. Have safety equipment in the trunk and keep two flashlights, one in the car and once in the trunk. Kitty litter (standard, not clumping) works in case of sliding and getting stuck. Keep a shovel in the trunk. Have your emergency roadside assistance number ready ahead of time.
  4. NEVER go up on your roof, unless it is flat (then BE very careful, think about safety equipment first)—to shovel the snow, as it is way too dangerous to handle without proper fall prevention equipment.
  5. In case snow becomes too hard to handle yourself, always have a snow removal company on retainer.
  6. Make sure that your snow blower is properly maintained, oil and plenty of gasoline (or a mix if older type) before the storm.
  7. Do plenty of surplus shopping before the storm. Include plenty of food, bottled water, groceries—food and sundries.
  8. Make sure that your cell phone is properly charged, before any outages.
  9. Make sure that you have batteries, flashlights and emergency first aid equipment. This idea doubles  in ice storms, which while temperatures aren’t too harsh, the ice can be devastating—branches, power-lines and your car.


  1. Pay attention to the latest weather reports and make wise decisions.
  2. Try to have someone pay attention to you while out shoveling. If injury happens, time can be of essence.
  3. Dress properly. Gloves, boots, and enough clothing to make sure that cold does not become a problem. Three items to pay attention to are:
    • Hypothermia, or lowering of or too low of body temperature. If you feel faint or think a heart condition develops due to being too cold, call 9-1-1 and follow doctors orders.
    • Frostbite, or a local skin or limb being exposed to too cold a temperature that blood flow is cut off to the limb. If it happens call 9-1-1 and follow doctors orders.
  4. Make sure ice is covered with salt. Make sure that you are very careful not to go down due to a fall. Lower back injury is the most prominent way of being injured in a storm.
  5. Never shovel too long. Pay attention to breathing and be properly clothed. If you have any chest pains, stop shoveling immediately, go inside and assess whether it is a problem, and if you think that you are having a heart attack, make sure to call 9-1-1. Even though it isn’t the most common injury, it is the most dangerous!
  6. Shivering during shoveling causes muscles to pull very easily and risks undue injury. Don’t try to do too much in once shoveling, especially if you are not used to doing it. Injury is never worth getting something accomplished.
  7. While shoveling, make sure that you pay attention to posture, and be very careful once snow is above waist level, due to fatigue and improper movement of your limbs while shoveling. This is the second most popular way of being injured.
  8. If you use a snow blower, make sure that you pay attention while doing so. Always practice the best policy for safety, and be very careful to fall away from the blower. A snow blower if injury happens, will be very devastating. A common blower can lead to amputations and even death, so please be very careful.
  9. Ice can be devastating, because while temperatures aren’t as harsh, it can be very tricky—branches, power-lines and your car, and falling–are all at risk. If you are locked out of your car, never use a torch. Make sure you do not venture too far, because if you run out of gas because you cannot get it into the tank, because of the ice—it can be a major problem.
  10. Use a brush and window scraper with gloves on to try to minimize risk of frostbite. Try to make sure you are not sealed out of your car, from ice or other elements. Use your safety equipment, shovel, flashlights, kitty litter if you slide or get stuck. Exercise caution while rolling the wheels, as gear slipping and too much heat on the transmission can cause transmission failure. Make sure that you do not drop your cell phone in the snow. Call for emergency roadside assistance if you do get stuck.
  11. NEVER go up on your roof, unless it is flat (then BE very careful, think about safety equipment first)—to shovel the snow, as it is way too dangerous to handle without proper fall prevention equipment.
  12. If snow becomes too hard to handle yourself, call your snow removal company.
  13. If your power goes out, all land-lines usually won’t work, so you will probably have to use your properly charged cell phone.
  14. If your power goes out, call the power company, and make sure that devices using gas and electric are not used. Always smell for natural gas, and if it is present, turn the gas off at the main and call the gas company. These are times that if you elected to buy into a power back-up generation system, you will be so glad that you did!
  15. Before the thaw, test the sump pumps and drains, and make sure the back-flow flap valves are operating to assure that water does not back up from the drain pipe.
  16. Make sure that you are ready for the thaw, as rains can exasperate the conditions. A lot of water run-off is imminent. Make sure that you pay attention to covered storm drains in your area, and if they are blocked, unblock them before a re-freeze. Never leave puddles sit that would normally go down.
  17. Also before the icicles get very heavy, make sure that you pay proper attention to the inside of the house, and move important items out into the center of the house away from the eaves and any portion of roof where snow is on it as it melts. Ice dams happen when the snow melts into ice by day, and then re-freezes at night, and then re-melts a second day later and starts running any direction except down.
  18. Make sure if you walk in a downtown district near buildings with icicles, that you look “up” before proceeding to walk into the building. Sound moves too slow to signal danger. Exercise caution at all times.
  19. Make sure if you elect to knocking icicles down, that you knock them away from you due to risk of injury and death. Icicles if they hit your head can be absolutely devastating. Make sure that you do not exert too much force on the icicle, as it could rip shingles, siding, support beams, gutters and molding right off, causing damage to the house.
  20. It is always a handy item to take before photos for your information and insurance purposes. Keep them current and up to date as much as possible. They may be necessary to assist your later damages from the storm.
  21. If you do have a problem, take photos, and save them to consult after the storm with your insurance agent.
  22. Save calling police and fire for emergencies calls only. Don’t call them for maintenance or city public works related issues. Keep the emergency numbers open for persons having real emergencies. Here are some survival tips:
  23. Stay informed by monitoring the storm by radio, and if power is still an option, plug in the TV, and/or internet. A battery operated weather radio is most helpful.
  24. If there is a medical emergency, dial 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room.


  1. Access any and all damages carefully and pay attention to safety.
  2. Call insurance and only follow the following tips after proper accessing has been done, and don’t forget to take photos first before you fix damages. keep all receipts for supplies, fixing–for insurance or to claim a loss.
  3. If you had to turn off any utilities, access the possibility and turn on utilities ONLY if possible.
  4. Make sure that you replenish salt as the snow or ice melts. Repeat the above “during the storm” tips as necessary until a complete thaw.
  5. Check up on the sump pumps and drains, and make sure they are operating properly.
  6. Continue to make frequent checks on the outside drainage similar to that of during the storm. Blocked sewer can be devastating, particularly if the thaw ends and the cold starts up again.
  7. It may take several weeks to dispose of refuse, make sure if any waste is hazardous to dispose of properly.
  8. Have any property that is not functioning maintained or replaced as necessary.
  9. Fix the decor to return everything to it’s normal state.

There are many disaster and emergency preparedness and assistance resources available for you to help you through the hard times rebuilding:

  • American Red Cross:
  • American Red Cross – Contact and Locate Loved Ones:
  • American Red Cross – Find an Open Shelter:
  • American Red Cross – Safe and Well: 1-800-RedCross (1-800-733-2767)
  • Apps – American Red Cross: Separate apps cover the subjects of: blood, earthquake, emergency, first aid, flooding, hero care, hurricanes, pet first aid, tornadoes, and wildfires.
  • Pet owner disaster preparation and assistance (ASPCA): This can assist with personalized missing pet recovery kits, creating digital lost pet flyers that can be shared instantly on the user’s social networks, advice on what to do with your pet before, during and after a storm or natural disaster, and the ability store a pet’s vital medical records and dietary needs, which can shave off precious time in the event of an emergency. This information can be easily stored and shared for your convenience as well.
  • provides information on how you might be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during and after a disaster. If the President makes help available to individuals in your community after a disaster, you can visit this site to apply online.
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters and is dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.
  • Call: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
  • Military OneSource: Offers various articles and resources for emergency preparedness and natural disasters.
  • Money Management in Times of Disaster: with information about Money Management during times of disaster:
    • Money management in times of disaster: Preparation
    • Returning to your damaged home
    • Managing finances and making decisions after a disaster
  • Ready is a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation. Ready and its Spanish language version Listo ask individuals to do three key things: (1) build an emergency supply kit, (2) make a family emergency plan and (3) be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses.
  • Sesame Street (Emergency Toolkits): has simple and easy resources to help you help children and others recover from an emergency.
  • The National Terror Alert Response Center: is a private homeland security blog and not affiliated with any government agency. We archive and comment on homeland security related news items from a variety of news sources and tips, as well as provide immediate updates on breaking stories, bulletins and any change in status to Homeland Security advisory. has become America’s leading source for homeland security news and information. A collaborative resource of news and analysis related to homeland security events, threats and trends. The National Terror Alert Response Network promotes homeland security emergency preparedness through awareness, education, community involvement and partnerships between individuals, groups and organizations. We strive to chronicle homeland security related news, trends and events in an effort to create national awareness and focus. It is our belief that through education and awareness some instances of terrorism may be prevented and through preparedness lives can be saved.
  • TriCare: In the event of a natural disaster, TriCare US Family Health Plan will post disaster-related information on their homepage. It’s important to know that your TriCare benefits will be maintained during any time of crisis. In the event of evacuation, please take the necessary precautions. In the case of an emergency, dial 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room. Click on an icon below (on the TriCare website) to read alerts and emergency information in your area.
    • TriCare emergency prescription refills: At times during emergencies, TriCare may authorize early refills for prescriptions. You will be notified via this site if early refills re authorized. TriCare officials remind beneficiaries that early refills are only authorized for beneficiaries who specifically indicate they are impacted by the emergency event.

When disaster strikes, this list helps assist you in getting the help and assistance that you need in order to put your life back together.

A winter storm is a nasty fact of life, but truly is a part of life that all have to deal with. They are not going away, and we need to be prepared, and be safe.




Versatileer > Weather Tips: Preparedness/Commonsense Tips & Pointers


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One thought on “Winter Weather Series – Winter Storm Safety & Resources

  1. This is a lot of good reminders for people. Some people just forget the common sense they have with the first big snow storm. When I drove a lot in the winter I always had this list of stuff in my car. today I still have some of the stuff but I don’t have to go out anymore

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