How to Prepare for a Snowstorm

The year 2010 has already been exceptional for the amount and severity of the snowstorms in the U.S., particularly the Midwest and the eastern part of the country.  That being said, if you live in either of these areas, you should know how to prepare for a snowstorm.  For those who haven’t experienced such a storm yet, there are several ways you can make sure you are ready when one hits.

Heating, Power & Water Sources

Whatever type of heat you have, be sure your system is in good working order.  If you use oil or wood, make sure at the beginning of the season that you’ve gotten enough delivered that you can get through the winter and then some.  You may also want to consider purchasing a generator and gas, but these must not be used indoors.

As far as water goes, if there is a chance that you will not be able to get water from the tap, make sure you have bought bottled water or, preferably, bottled your own to last at least a week.


If you don’t have a year-round pantry that you replenish and you hear that a storm is on the way and your supplies are low, you must make it a priority to get out and shop for food.  Be sure to have canned goods such as soups, stews, spaghetti, fruits, and vegetables and a  good manual can opener (or two handy), in case you lose power.  Pick up foods that don’t need refrigeration or heating, too.  Don’t forget to get lots of healthy snacks, as well.  If you are cooped up in the house over a lengthy storm, everyone will be eating more than they usually do, due to the fact that they are there rather than out of the house following their usual routine.

Alternative methods for cooking

You may have to use a propane grill, regular barbecue grill, or camp stove if you lose your electricity.  Make sure you have all related supplies, such as briquettes, Sterno, or propane ready to go.  Also, be sure to use these kinds of emergency cooking substitutes outside only.     

Emergency supplies

Matches, several flashlights, lanterns, extra batteries, candles, a weather radio (or regular radio, or both), extra blankets and comforters, sleeping bags for everyone, snow shovels, rock salt for the sidewalks and driveway, kitty litter for the trunk of the car are some of the necessary items you’ll want to have plenty of on hand.  Make sure you keep listening for weather information on the battery-operated radio in case they are calling for people in your area to evacuate.

Medications and first aid

Always have a first aid kit available.  Check it often to be sure that items that have been used are replaced.  Purchase enough medication to get you through a storm.  Most medications are purchased in 30 or 90 day supplies, so you should be able to get through as long as you haven’t run out when the storm hits. 

Any other special supplies should be purchased in advance, as well, such as baby supplies or items for an elderly member of the family, such as Depends, or denture cleaners, etc.


Everyone should have plenty of warm clothing at their disposal.  It may be necessary to wear extra layers if the heat goes off.  You may have to camp around the fireplace, if you’re lucky enough to have one.  With everyone in one room, you will stay warmer.  In fact, it’s a good idea to shut doors to rooms that aren’t being used to conserve any heat.

Things to do

Try to keep a box of various types of fun things that your family likes to do if they are trapped inside for days, such as books, cards, craft supplies, and games, or anything else you can think of. 

If conditions are safe outside, you may want to all go out for a walk, play in the snow, or go sledding to break the monotony of being inside.    

Knowing how to prepare in advance for a snowstorm will help you tremendously.  If you do your homework and get everything you need, you will be well-fed and comfortable while you wait out the storm.