How to Prepare for a Snowstorm

As Washington, DC just discovered, snow isn’t always the picture perfect scenery shown on Christmas cards. Oh, it is lovely at first, especially when the snow flakes are giant-sized and fluffy as they gently build up. If unprepared, your family’s lives could be endangered. Those who live within a snow belt are aware of the unpredictability of wintry weather. When a snowstorm hits, the excessive “white stuff” can be terrifying. Therefore, it is important to be prepared.


Depending upon the area in which you live or visit, it’s best to have canned food that will feed your household for at least a week. Canned beans, fruit, juices and meats that can be used in sandwiches would feed your family if cooking is not possible. A supply of bottled water, three per day per person is recommended. If cold enough, water lines may freeze, leaving you without water. Not only are stores closed during heavy snowstorms, but trucks and trains are unable to delivery products to the grocers until the roads and tracks have been cleared.


Ideally, it would be good to maintain a supply of wood that will keep a wood stove or fireplace burning for a few weeks. This would be recommended even if your main source of power is oil, gas or electric. Snowstorms can break gas lines, prevent oil delivery and knock down electrical wires. The additional benefit of a wood stove or fireplace is fuel for cooking.

Power generator


Keep your gas tank three-quarters to full at all times during snow season. When roads are closed, tankers are prevented from making gasoline deliveries. Until the storm is over and roads have been cleared, you would be unable to fill your car’s gas tank.

Candles, flashlights and batteries

Essential for power outages so you can see to maneuver in your home, it is imperative that you keep a supply of candles and batteries, and a flashlight for each person in the home.

Cell phone battery

It would be good to have an extra fully charged battery for your cell phone. Land lines typically become out-of-service when power lines become heavily laden with snow. There is a chance that your cell phone may still work in case of emergencies. However, social chatting should be limited so people can get through for urgent needs.


Should power be out and you have no wood stove or fireplace, blankets are the next best thing for keeping warm. You’ll want to have two or three for each person in the household.

Emergency kit

While this is a good idea to have no matter what time of year or where you live, it is essential for a snowstorm. Fire trucks and ambulances cannot get through very well in snowstorms, if at all. So it may be necessary to handle lesser emergencies, such as serious cuts, until medical attention can be obtained. It should be equipped with various sizes of bandages, antibiotic ointment, peroxide, scissors, tape, gauze, plastic gloves and alcohol swabs.

Coloring books, crayons, markers, story books and other toys

For children to pass the time indoors, have a supply of such items for their use. These should preferably be new to them to delay boredom.

Emergency telephone numbers

A central location should list the telephone numbers for doctors, gas and electric company, telephone company, elderly relatives and their immediate neighbors and your neighbors. If you are not in an area that has access to 9-1-1, add ambulance and fire department telephone numbers. 

Snowstorms are not expected in Washington, DC, Virginia or the Carolinas. However, just as with hurricanes and tornadoes, people must be prepared for the unexpected to keep themselves, their families and their homes safe.