Winter is coming. Are you prepared? If you live in certain parts of the US, you know that winter can bring severe and even dangerous weather that can cause problems like ice dams and frozen or burst pipes. This is especially true as changes in the climate lead to more extreme weather patterns.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most precipitation in the US in recent years has come in the form of “intense single-day events.” While the rate of extreme single-day precipitation events stayed steady from 1910 to the 1980s, it has risen substantially since then.
If you live in an area like New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, or even Texas, winter storm preparedness is critical. Look no further for evidence than the harsh, eight-day period of winter weather that occurred from February 10-18th of 2021 in South-Central Texas.
Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we provide disaster restoration for homeowners and businesses affected by severe weather. Below, we’ll discuss winter storm preparedness for homeowners and businesses in the Eastern US and beyond, and offer a few of our top tips for staying safe during and after a winter storm.
Homeowners: What to do Before a Winter Storm
Create a Preparedness Plan
- Before winter weather threatens your home, put together an emergency preparedness kit. This kit should include ice-melt, sand to improve traction for your vehicle or add weight, snow shovels and other snow removal equipment, sufficient heating fuel, clean, dry, warm clothing and blankets, non-perishable food and fresh water, a first-aid kit, and flashlights with spare batteries.
- Make an emergency plan for your family. If you’re not together when the storm hits, your family should know how to contact one another, where to meet, and what to do in case of emergency.
- Winterize your home by weather-stripping doors and windows. Clear all rain gutters, repair roof leaks, insulate pipes, and learn how to shut off your home’s water valves, in case your pipes freeze and burst.
- Remove and drain all hoses, and winterize sprinkler and irrigation systems.
- Listen to your local news channel for critical information regarding the winter storm.
- Know the difference between a winter storm watch, a winter storm warning, and a blizzard warning.
- A winter storm watch is a warning issued by the National Weather Service 24-36 hours before a severe weather event, which means that there is a potential for heavy snow and ice accumulation.
- A winter storm warning is a warning issued by the National Weather Service that forecasts heavy snow or ice accumulations in your area. This warning predicts snow buildup of at least 6″ in 12 hours, or 8″ in 24 hours.
- A blizzard warning is a warning issued when winter storms are expected to sustain wind speeds of 35mph or higher with considerable falling and blowing snow that reduces visibility to a quarter-mile or less. A blizzard warning projects that storm conditions will prevail for at least three hours.
- Do not go outdoors during the storm, even if the weather seems calm. Wait for news from your local weather service that the warning or advisory has passed.
- Dress as warmly as possible, utilizing layers to keep body heat in and prevent hypothermia.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness, and exhaustion.
- Drive only if it is necessary. If you must drive, do not go alone. Stay on the main roads and inform others of your travel plans.
- If the pipes in your home freeze, remove insulation surrounding the pipes. Open all faucets and pour hot water over the frozen pipes, starting where the freeze originated. If using kerosene heaters, open windows to maintain ventilation and avoid build-up of fumes.
Secure Your Pets
- Create a safe, warm spot indoors for pets and companion animals.
- Move livestock and outdoor animals to sheltered areas with windbreaks, a space to get out of the snow, and accessible drinking water.
Homeowners: What to Do After a Winter Storm
Clear Snow and Ice
- Once the weather advisory is lifted, you can clear snow and ice from your property. Wear warm clothing and boots with thick, rubber soles. Watch for signs of frostbite, including skin that turns white or areas of numbness on exposed skin.
- Use EPA-approved ice-melt to remove ice buildup from walkways and areas around your home.
- Use an extendable roof-rake to clean off the edges of your roof and prevent ice damming. If ice dams already exist, contact a disaster recovery team to help you remove them and prevent water backup in your home.
Assess Your Property for Damage
- Look for damage to trees, branches, and brush, which could create a secondary risk to your home or family. Contact a tree specialist if you notice damaged limbs or injured trees.
- Go inside your home and look for cracked, leaking, or sagging ceilings, which may indicate that your roof is damaged.
Check Your Smoke and CO Detectors
- If your power is out and you need to heat your home using a fireplace, space heater, or generator, check the batteries in your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, first.
Contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba
If your home suffered damage during a winter storm, our team can help. We provide 24/7 disaster recovery services for homeowners like you. Our expert team can deploy in just minutes to get you the help you need to restore your home, reclaim your property, and get life back to normal.
For Businesses: What to do Before a Winter Storm
Assess Your Risk
As a business owner, there may be additional hazards to keep in mind regarding winter storms and property dangers. For example, your building may be subject to an increased likelihood of slip and fall injuries, structural damage, or even fire activity.
Assess the following winter weather threats to determine your risk level:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Road closures
- Hypothermia and frostbite for your workers or customers
- Structural damage and stress to your building
- Fire risk
- Power outages
- Unsafe driving or parking conditions
Make a Plan
- Create an emergency response plan for your business. You should include an evacuation plan for employees and customers.
- Create an emergency supply kit and keep it in a public place in your business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers this guidance on how to put together a winter storm preparedness kit.
- Encourage employees to sign up for local text alerts and weather warnings on their smartphones.
Prepare Your Property
- Make sure you have ample snow shovels and ice melt on hand.
- Move, cover, or secure outdoor furniture, accessories, and equipment to prevent them from blowing around or becoming buried during severe winter weather.
- Preemptively add some ice melt to your sidewalks and parking areas to get a headstart on ice buildup.
- Weatherize your building with weather stripping, caulk, and other insulation methods meant to prevent cold air drafts.
- Have a professional service your heating systems.
- Check the batteries in your smoke and CO detectors and replace any batteries that are not working.
Businesses: What to do After a Winter Storm
- When the weather advisory has been lifted, you can go outside and start clearing snow off your parking lots, sidewalks, and roof.
- Be sure to wear warm clothing and appropriate footwear.
- Use a roof-rake to remove snow buildup from your roof ledges and eaves.
- Apply ice melt to the cleared areas to get rid of ice buildup and make the space safe for walking again.
Inspect Your Property for Damage
- Evaluate your property – both inside and outside – for weather-related damage.
- Look for broken or damaged tree limbs that could fall and present a danger.
- Look for displaced shingles on your roof, and go inside your building to inspect for cracked, sagging, or leaking ceilings, which could indicate roof damage.
Contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba
If your business property suffered any damage during the storm, contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for professional restoration services.
Do not attempt to conduct heavy restoration on your own. Instead, hire a professional storm damage restoration company that can provide efficient, rapid repairs that keep you and your employees safe.
Professional Winter Storm Restoration Services for You
Whether you need comprehensive winter storm restoration services or minor repairs, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba is here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our team, our services, or how we can help you get your home or business back to normal in no time.