How to Prepare for a Snow Storm: 10 Steps for Weathering the Worst

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: December 6, 2023

We all remember the Super Bowl blizzard of 2015. As bad as it was, it only ranked fifth in our modern history of record-setting snow storms. The winter blast dumped more than 19 inches of the white stuff across Chicago and knocked out power to more than 15,000 homes and businesses.

Are you ready for the next one? When forecasters predict the worst, how will you start preparing for a snow storm?

As seasoned natives here in Chicagoland, we like to think we’re ready for all kinds of severe weather and storm damage cleanup. That confidence deserves the backup of solid plans that we can quickly put into place.

Staying Safe and Warm: How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

It’s one thing to get the house ready for winter. It’s another to be ready for an Arctic blast. A Chicago snowpocalypse can shut down roads, knock out the power and freeze pipes in just a few hours. When you know it’s coming, it’s time to swing into action and start preparing for a snow storm. These 10 tips help you stay safe and warm.

1. Listen to the Forecast

winter storm

When meteorologists make their forecasts, they base their predictions on solid science and advanced technology. Pay close attention to snow storm warnings, and understand the difference between watches and advisories. Stay in touch with local up-to-the minute alerts too.

2. Prep the Car

No one plans on driving during a blizzard, but knowing how to prepare for a winter storm keeps you safer on the road. Check your car’s antifreeze, wipers and tires. Fill up the tank, and keep snow chains and rock salt in the trunk.

3. Stock Up on Batteries

home batteries

When the power goes out, batteries keep you in touch with local news and let you reach out to friends and family. Keep backups for battery-powered radios and TVs, and keep cell phones alive with battery-powered chargers.

4. Fuel the Fireplace

This is another smart strategy for dealing with a power outage during a snow storm. Bring enough wood inside to fuel the fireplace for several days. Stay safe by stacking the extra wood in a storage area away from your open fire.

5. Inventory Fire Extinguishers

fire extinguisher

When you rely on the fireplace for heat, be careful by being sure your home’s fire extinguishers are ready. Know where each one is stored, check gauges for full charges, and review safe fire extinguisher operation.

6. Double-Check the Furnace

Home furnace safety and maintenance belong on every list of how to prepare for a snow storm. Even if you checked the furnace a few days earlier, give it another inspection as soon as you hear winter storm warnings.

7. Double-Check Pipe Insulation

water pipe insulation

When you think about how to prepare for an ice storm, think about the last time you insulated all the pipes in the house. Don’t assume they’re still in good shape. Confirm plumbing is protected from freezing weather, and protect your home from frozen burst pipes.

8. Know Your Shut-Off Valves

Even insulated pipes can freeze, rupture and flood the house. Minimize the damage from this winter storm disaster by knowing how to turn off your home’s main water valve. It’s a DIY skill that can come in handy year-round.

9. Fill Up the Pantry

canned food

Stock up on non-perishable groceries to satisfy family appetites without cooking. Dinner straight from a can to a bowl can be very satisfying when you don’t have power for preparing regular meals. Make sure family pets have plenty of backup food too.

10. Stock a First Aid Kit

You can buy first aid kits online and at most drug stores, but it’s often less expensive to assemble your own. The Red Cross offers excellent guidelines for building home first aid kits. The organization recommends keeping one kit in the house and another in the car.

Stay Prepared and Share

We’ve been lucky so far. Long-term forecasts don’t predict anything like the 2015 blizzard. Still, last winter was one of our warmest, and the city dealt with several serious snowstorms. Stay prepared, and let us know how you handle Chicago’s freezing weather by sharing your best winter tips through our Comments Section.

If the next blizzard catches you off guard, we’re here to help with a full line of disaster cleanup services. From boarding up broken windows to drying out flooded basements, our teams are ready to respond with the best storm damage cleanup in Chicago and the suburbs. Regardless of the weather, you can always depend on us here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.