For warm-weather dwellers, a blizzard is a tasty dessert from a well-known fast food franchise. But for the rest of us, a blizzard is a winter weather advisory that brings snow – and lots of it.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, wintry atmospheric conditions is third to only hurricanes and tornadoes, respectively, in annual damage losses experienced by property owners. A big reason for this is the havoc blizzards wreak, as these storms bring not only copious amounts of snow, but forceful wind gusts. In fact, the National Weather Services says that in order for a snow storm to receive blizzard status, wind gusts have to be moving at 35 miles per hour or more and visibility reduced to a quarter of a mile for 180 minutes or longer.
Blizzard news always saturates the local and national broadcasts during winter, both because they can be devastatingly forceful and span large areas. Even when they're not officially blizzards by definition, they can be powerful, like the winter storm that caused $2.8 billion in damages in mid-February of last year, according to statistics compiled by the III. Twenty different states were impacted over the course of 10 days, including the entire New England region, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee.
When a blizzard is in the forecast, the best way to prepare is by hunkering down and staying inside. However, because they can be long-lasting – and cause power outages that may span for days – it's important to prepare so you can get through the storm as comfortably as possible.
Here are a few tips that can help you brave the blizzard should one affect your area in the coming months:
1. Shore up your stock of supplies
Those who experienced the blizzard of 1978 will likely be the first to tell you how important it is to have essentials at the ready, as many people throughout the East Coast were caught flat-footed when the storm roared ashore in February. Ideally, food stuffs and beverages should be enough to last you for three days at a bare minimum. Things like non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights, spare batteries, radio, and a first-aid kit classify as essentials. But you should also be self-reflective, making sure you have plenty of items that you may not need to survive, but will help you pass the time or avoid stress, like a deck of cards, board games, or reading material.
2. Prep for your pets
One never knows when or how long stores will be off line if the power goes out, so your local pet retailer may not be open to get your dog or cat food and treats. Take a look at what you have on hand and resupply accordingly so you don't risk running out. In a pinch, you can always use human food, of course, but this may not be possible for pets with special diets.
3. Fill your car with plenty of gas
The roads may be off limits during a blizzard, making the prospect of driving a non-issue. Still, you should always keep your tank filled so you're prepared for the unexpected. Plus, excessively cold temperatures can increase the risk of tanks freezing, and the chances of this are reduced when there's less room for moisture to form.
4. Check function of your water pipes
One of the costliest sources of damage for homeowners are pipes that freeze or burst. This happens when pipes are exposed to extremely cold air and water is within them. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, it costs an average of $5,000 to fix frozen water pipes, which may or may not be covered by homeowners insurance. To avoid this, consider insulating your pipes. Your local hardware store should have the supplies you need. On average, insulation costs between 50 cents and $1.00 per linear foot.
Insulating the pipes that run through the basement is probably the best place for installation. Roughly 35% of burst and frozen pipes originate in the cellar, according to IBHS.
For more tips on how you can successfully get through whatever Old Man Winter has up his sleeves, check out these suggestions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.