December 4, 2017 • In Heating & Cooling, Tips • 6 Min Read

How to Prepare for a Winter Storm in Pennsylvania

Haller Enterprises

By Haller Enterprises

Winter in Pennsylvania can be wonderful. We’re lucky to live in a state that gets some beautiful winter weather and snow that’s perfect for many enjoyable outdoor activities. Unfortunately, that snow can quickly turn to a blizzard, and the past few years have shown that PA can suffer from some nasty winter storms.Snowstorms are hard to predict, even harder than summer rainstorms and thunderstorms. When temperatures hover around freezing, snow can turn to freezing rain and ice. Add in blowing wind, and a PA winter storm can be downright dangerous. To ensure your family and home are ready for a winter storm, consider taking some precautions every fall. These small steps can ensure your safety and comfort and help you wait out the next big winter snow or ice storm.

How Do Your Prepare Your Home for a Winter Storm in PA?

Being prepared for a storm is essential to keeping it from becoming a major problem. When you’re ready for it, a winter blizzard may slow you down, but it won’t catch you off guard. Prepare your home in the fall or if the weather report calls for snow, sleet, ice or high winter winds with the following:
  • Clear your roof of standing snow and ice and ensure your rain gutters and downspouts are flowing properly.
  • Keep snowbanks from building up against your house. These can cause flooding when they melt.
  • Have a shovel and sand or salt ready for clearing your walkway and driveway.
  • Verify that all of your windows and doors are firmly shut and sealed properly.
  • Add storm windows or plastic insulation over old, poorly insulated windows.
  • Consider insulating your garage and basement to act as a thermal barrier.
  • Fix all broken and loose shingles as well as any loose exterior elements — siding, soffits, etc.
  • Protect or insulate exposed water pipes that run against the exterior wall of your home.
  • Have your home heating system inspected by a professional.
  • Stock up on oil, wood or other means of heating your home in a safe manner.
  • Consider purchasing a secondary heating source — electric, wood, kerosene or coal-powered. However, make sure you understand the dangers of CO from burning fossil fuels.
Once you’ve followed these steps, your home is ready for the worst weather winter can deliver. Also, make sure you have flashlights available in case the power goes out. Candles are another option, but always be extremely careful not to leave them unattended, especially in the presence of children or pets. Every year in PA there are unfortunate fires due to burning candles. Since we don’t often use this source of lighting, we can quickly forget to tend to them.

How Do You Prepare Your Family for a Winter Storm?

Once your home is prepared, it’s time to make sure your family knows what to expect. While most major PA blizzards last a day or so, you never know when a major winter storm might keep you from leaving your house for a few days. There are a few things you can do to make sure that your family is ready if they can’t get out to work, school or for other activities because of snow, ice, sleet or blowing winds and whiteout conditions:
  • Stock up on food basics, including items that won’t perish if the power goes out.
  • Have a stock of water in bottles in case pipes freeze or the municipal water delivery fails.
  • Fill the bathtub with water. In addition to drinking, this water can also be used to flush the toilet if necessary.
  • Ensure every family member has warm clothing layers available in case the heating goes off.
  • Pay special attention to babies and children, as well as sick and elderly family members.
  • Have several activities — such as board games, coloring books and a deck of cards — handy to fight boredom.
While some of this might seem like overkill, a major winter blizzard or ice storm can quickly make leaving your home difficult. If schools are canceled and the roads blocked, you’ll be glad you’ve prepared ahead of time. Play close attention to TV and radio weather reports, and always listen to the authorities with respect to driving restrictions. Unfortunately, traffic accidents are frequent during snowstorms, so avoid going out if you really don’t have to.

Think of Others

Your family and home are your priority, but it is also important to think of other people in your area that might need help. Do you have any elderly or isolated neighbors who may not be prepared for a storm? Check in on them when the weather turns bad and ensure they are safe and warm. While losing heat in a home is uncomfortable, an individual can stay warm as long as they’re warmly dressed with multiple layers.Stay together in groups where possible. This allows you to keep an eye on fragile friends and family and also helps the time pass more quickly. Children can especially feel housebound during a winter storm, so think of fun activities for them to enjoy. If the power goes out, the TV and other entertainment devices won’t work, so plan on having some non-electrical games and toys.Don’t forget your four-legged friends, either! Pets are at risk in cold, stormy conditions, so keep them safe and warm in the house. If they need to go outside to do their business, accompany them in a sheltered space — for instance, under a porch or awning — and bring them back in as soon as they’re done. Take care to ensure all farm animals and livestock are well fed and sheltered from the wind. Farm animals may be hearty, but they can suffer from extreme weather just like the rest of us.

How Do You Deal with Power Loss During a PA Winter Storm?

In our modern lives, we’re used to having electricity at all times. A winter storm can quickly knock the power grid out in your city, town or municipality. When that happens, none of your appliances or electrical devices will work in your home. Worse yet, electric heating and furnaces won’t work. If you’re fortunate enough to have an alternative energy source for your heating — gas, propane, wood, coal, etc. — your house will stay warm, but take extra caution as electronic controls, thermostats, alarms and safety devices may not work.If you don’t already have one, consider purchasing an emergency heating source to be prepared for a prolonged winter storm. It doesn’t need to be very big — when a storm hits and the power goes out, you can gather your family in one room that is easy to heat with a single source. Also, consider small individual heaters to keep your pipes and water lines from freezing. You will want to consider an alternative power source as well for things like:
  • Lights
  • Telephones and communication devices — tablets, computers, etc.
  • Cooking appliances
  • Fridges and freezers
  • Medical devices and equipment
While batteries are an option for some of these devices, a backup power generator is your best way to ensure you have all the power you need during a storm blackout. Check out our offering and discover all of the different generator options available, including automatic standby models that come on when the main power grid fails. Make sure you never bring a portable generator inside your home as CO can build up and cause serious harm to everyone in the home.A winter storm doesn’t have to be a major problem for you. Take a little bit of time to prepare your home and family before winter comes, and be ready when the snow starts to fly and the wind starts to blow. When your family is safe inside your home during a storm, you can relax, enjoy time together and wait patiently until the storm blows over and things get back to normal. 
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