During the last major blizzard, quite a few of my neighbours were not prepared – even though the storm was predicted days in advance.
How to prepare for a blizzard
Being caught unprepared should be unusual here in New England, since most of us have been through quite a few Nor’easters, major hurricanes, and recently, even tornado warnings.
Having been through far too many storms – snow and hurricane – I thought it would be helpful to give a rundown of how I prep for storms.
Get the cars ready for a storm
- fill the gas tanks of all vehicles
- make sure the windshield washer is full, and use the kind with antifreeze.
- raise the wiper blades into an upright position. This will keep them from freezing onto the windshield, and make scraping the ice and snow off a lot easier
- BACK the car into the driveway! When there is snow and ice on the driveway, it’s a hell of a lot easier to barrel over it all if you are driving forward. You are going to make things more difficult for yourself if you try to back out over all that stuff. [Note: the car pictured above and below isn’t used in the snow/ice. That’s what the 4×4 pickup truck is for!] Gearhead girl stuff: the Charger is an older model with rear-wheel drive, and it has a 350 hp V-8 engine, which means that it’s all engine. If I drive it in the snow, the back end kicks out and I fishtail all over the place – which can be kinda fun – when that is what I feel like doing.
- Park at the end of the driveway – but far enough back so you don’t get clipped by the snowplows. Also, the plows will put a mountain of snow at the end of your driveway when they finally do come around. And it will always be right after you shoveled out.
- Alternatively, park in the most protected area of the driveway. For me, it’s along the house, which blocks drifting snow. Sometimes. It depends on the direction of the wind.
Batten down the hatches and secure the area
- Secure lawn furniture, trash cans and anything that can move. A Nor’easter can produce winds of 50-60 mph! Seriously, I don’t want your patio furniture on my front lawn.
- Put a snow shovel and broom right by the most used door to your house.
- If you have a snowblower, make sure that it is ready to roll. Have it gassed up and positioned in the garage, or area where it can come out easily
- Fill up a gas can – even if you are like me and don’t have a gas-powered snowblower. When we had a storm that dumped 4 feet of snow, the plows didn’t come out for almost a week. The guys in the ‘hood all came out with their snowblowers to clear the street, but they quickly ran out of gas. And the gas station within walking distance had run out of gas. Who had gas for the snowblowers? Me. Guess where the guys started clearing the street. Yep. At my driveway.
- Keep a bag of rock salt or ice melt inside the house, just inside the most used door.
- I have one of those little electric shovels – sort of a mini snowblower. I keep it right outside the back door, but keep the heavy-duty extension cord inside the house at the back door. That makes it easy to grab, and it unwraps easier when it’s at room temperature.
- If you don’t have one already, buy a roof rake. Keep it inside (unassembled) and ready to grab as needed.
- Bring your pets in.
- Have a propane tank full for the grill – just in case the power goes out for a few days. Or a week. Or two.
- Keep a boot tray by the door, along with a towel or two for wiping down yourself, the kids and the pets as they come in. I also keep an old towel over the area rug by the back door. This will help keep snow from being tracked inside.
- When digging out, do it in small doses! You don’t want to have a path shoveled to the door only to be used by the EMTs when they come to save you from the heart attack you just gave yourself by overdoing it. I’m serious! Too many people do this to themselves around here during storms. Take it in small bites.
This was when we had 4 feet of snow. I had to shovel a little in the back of the house; walk through the house with the snow shovel because I couldn’t get through the drifted snow in the driveway; then chip away at the front of the house; then return to doing the back of the house….until I was able to get a path down the driveway from back to front.
I did this because as the sun moved, different areas were starting to melt. Which reminds me – do the areas that will melt done first, then move to where the sun is going to hit next. Fluffy snow is much easier to move than snow that is starting to melt.
Also, if you are planning to remodel the house, learn from my mistake and don’t position the door facing North.
Take care of the indoor essentials
- If you have pets, always have some emergency pet food handy
- charge up all your electronic devices – iPad, iPhone(s), iPod, laptop
- get candles out, or at least know where they are so you can find them if the power goes out
- have matches or lighters handy
- leave a flashlight out
- and have plenty of batteries
- take a shower and dry your hair first thing in the morning. That way, if the power goes out, at least you will be clean. 🙂
- you went grocery shopping already, right? If you didn’t, it’s too late. Next time, go a few days before the storm is predicted to hit.
- hopefully, you got all necessary prescriptions filled beforehand as well.
- cook some food the day before the storm is expected. Even if the power doesn’t go out, you’ll appreciate having stuff ready to eat and not have to stop and cook after shoveling snow all day.
Since you will probably be hanging around inside the house most of the time, be sure to have plenty of fabric, yarn and craft supplies on hand! A blizzard is a great time to have a hot cup of coffee and work on some projects.