Preparing For Winter Storms

Ice on tree limbs.Ice can really do a number on the electrical lines. And the cable lines too. If it is this thick on the trees then it is just as bad on everything else.

So how do you prepare for a winter storm?


Make sure you have some way of keeping warm if the electricity goes out. If you already have a gas stove or heater then you are set. If not…you might be in trouble if you wait till you need it.

The winter storm of 2009 caught me unprepared…we had to go to multiple stores looking for heaters and ended up stuck with a kerosene heater for a bit. They do heat well but the smell gave me a headache and they are a bit harder to use than propane heaters.

It was days before we able to find a propane heater and lots of places were out of full propane tanks too. It is much easier if you already have a heater and a tank.


You also need to make sure you have an alternate source of light. Especially if you are a reader like me. With no television or internet…you are definitely going to need something else to keep you busy and sane. This is a good time for board games or card games too. You need light for those too!

So a good supply of long burning candles for general lighting is good to have. And you should get them before you need them too because the stores will run out during an actual emergency. There were no candles to be found anywhere for days after the storm of ’09. Lamp oil was also in short supply so if you have lamps (better for reading than candles!) make sure you have some extra lamp oil on hand too.

And batteries for flash lights can be really expensive and in short supply as well…so it is a good idea to keep some on hand.

Food and cooking

You will also need a way to cook your food for a few days. If you already have a gas stove then you are set! If like us your place is all electric then you will have a problem.  You can use a propane BBQ grill if you have one and have the propane too. Or a small camp stove. In the storm of ’09 we did both.

Since the freezer wasn’t working we grilled all the meat we could and lots of boiled foods for the first few days. It helps to have items that easy to fix. If your power is only out for a short time you may not need to worry about this. Ours was out for 17 days in ’09.

Much of this will be true for other kinds of emergencies too. You may also need to have a supply of water on hand for some. It wouldn’t hurt anyway.

What have you done to prepare for storms and other emergencies?

In Category: General

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Show 29 Comments
  • laura February 22, 2013, 6:06 PM

    We had a bad ice storm when our youngest was 6 months old. The power was out for about 4 days. We ended up going to my parents’ house about an hour away. All the hotels around us were full.
    Someday soon we will have a gas generator. Last Winter we had no snow at all so no worries. We did get a lot of rain and a flooded basement. Now we have a battery backup for the Sump Pump.
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  • laura February 22, 2013, 6:08 PM

    That’s the same storm we had…wow 17 days!! Now we’d probably stay home and I’d use our camp stove. We’ve camped in a tent with it being in the 30’s so we’d be okay now at home.
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  • Ellen Christian February 23, 2013, 8:54 AM

    Great suggestions. Living in Vermont, we get a lot of winter storms. We make sure we are stocked up on food for us and the pets as well as first aid supplies. You never know what you might need.
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  • Lindsey G February 23, 2013, 9:29 AM

    Great advice! We don’t have to really deal with a lot of winter storms or emergencies, but it’s a running joke in the South to run to the store for “White Bread and Milk”! :)
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  • Nikki February 23, 2013, 11:10 AM

    We live in a bad area for storms, and this is all great advice. After we lost power for 8 days with Sandy, I’m always prepared now.
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  • Emily February 23, 2013, 2:20 PM

    We lost power for 10 hours during Winter Storm Nemo – it was due to the heavy wet snow on many of the lines in our area. We have a gas grill (for cooking), but no alternate source of heat. The temperature in our house fell to 55 degrees. Since the storm, we’ve been looking for gas fireplaces and are considering a generator!
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  • Nancy Luebke February 23, 2013, 3:49 PM

    The same hurricane that tore up new Orleans, sent its wind up our way. It broke off telepone and light poles, Our community was without power just over a week. We were on vacation visiting family, and if we had come home a day earlier, we would have drove right into it, and then would have been stranded. Our own home is in a sheltered valley and was fine except for power. We invested in a gas generator and was able to hook up the refrigerator and freezer. Those cold showers were a bit much but at least we had water. In hindsight, we wish we would have gotten a bigger generator.

  • Karen February 23, 2013, 3:50 PM

    These are great tips as we have another storm approaching. REALLY hoping we don’t need to use them :)
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  • mryjhnsn
    February 24, 2013, 11:17 AM

    Holy cow! It is hard to imagine a life without electricity but thanks for the reminder to be prepared!
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  • Angela February 24, 2013, 12:40 PM

    Although we’ve had a very mild winter in Georgia, it’s still good to be prepared. Great suggestions!
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  • Kecia February 24, 2013, 2:43 PM

    Being in the south we typically don’t lose power for snow (or even get snow at all, some winters!) but I agree it’s always good to be prepared. We have lots of candles and flashlights, should we need them. I need to look into getting a heater to use if the power went out as well!
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  • Tazim
    February 24, 2013, 5:48 PM

    Definitely good to be prepared for the worst – we don’t get many snow storms, but rain warnings need to be prepared for, still.

  • Lena February 24, 2013, 11:35 PM

    As much as I understand that this is hard time for everyone, but I can’t stop be amazed how pretty it is
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  • Cecile February 25, 2013, 11:58 AM

    We definitely need an alternate form of heating. I wish we had a fireplace!
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  • Tiffany C.
    February 25, 2013, 2:06 PM

    This winter instead of sleet and snow we are getting overloads of rain. Geez. It seems never ending.
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  • Linette February 25, 2013, 3:58 PM

    We had an ice storm last week. We’re all prepared with a generator, wood burning stove, propane for the grill, water, and plenty of candles! A couple years ago we had no power for almost a week after an ice storm came through, so now we’re prepared!
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  • Stacey
    February 25, 2013, 4:09 PM

    Nice to see a practical list…it seems like people in our area run to the store and stock up on milk and bread but nothing else! They have no way of dealing with the important issues like heat and electricity!
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  • Amber K
    February 25, 2013, 7:10 PM

    I wish I was a prepper, but sadly I’m one of those “deal with it when it happens” types.
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  • Maria February 26, 2013, 3:02 PM

    It’s nice to be able to prep for a storm, any storm! However this summer we had a microburst in our area and no warning. There were a total of 10 telephone poles broken in half, and more than 20 trees completely uprooted just in a 3 block radius! It was bad!
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  • candice February 26, 2013, 6:45 PM

    we are getting yet another storm tonight! is winter over yet?
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  • Wenie Langacre February 26, 2013, 7:12 PM

    Yes, those three are indeed very necessary when it comes to winter preparations. Maybe for me, food and drinks and heating is the most important thing. I would also recommend that you also have some medicines in your medicine kit cos we never know what will happen and you can’t go out to buy one.
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  • Darcy February 26, 2013, 9:34 PM

    We were without power for about a week or more after a bad straight line wind storm in 99 or 2000. We lost so much food it was bad. Despite living in WI all my life we’ve never really prepared that thoroughly for winter storms. Stores are always busy right before a big one though as everyone stocks up in water.
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  • janet February 26, 2013, 11:59 PM

    These are great tips, and there is a part of me that wishes I “had” to do some of this. But I’m in Texas so not much of a chance. My husband is from Michigan and always misses the snow.
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  • Brandy Myers
    February 27, 2013, 9:59 AM

    What great tips. Living in rural Colorado we try to be prepared for anything mother nature throws at us but have never had to worry about going without for more than a few hours. I couldn’t imagine days!
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  • Dawn
    March 2, 2013, 12:27 PM

    Grilling all of your food so that it doesn’t go bad is a great idea. What did you do with the food after you grilled it? Or did you only have what you could eat?


    • Elleberra
      March 9, 2013, 3:39 PM

      We had the neighbors over for dinner! There were six of us here at the time too. Some of it we just kept and ate as long as it was good. It was cold enough outside that we could keep it for a bit out there(refrigerator not working) so long as we put it where the dogs couldn’t get at it.
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  • Julie Wood November 8, 2013, 8:18 AM

    I need to prepare for winter storms because we had an ice storm in November of 2006. I did not lose electricity, but hundreds of people in my town did. My family lost electricity and I helped them out with having them stay at my house. My families electricity was out for 10 days. But, I need to do some of the things that you talk about in this post. Thanks for the tips!

  • felicia sidoma November 9, 2013, 2:19 AM

    I grew up in Tucson AZ. so I never had to worry about a bad winter. Then i moved to Portland OR. The first year I was there we had a ice storm. Boy did I learn quick about snow and Ice. How to stay warm. Stocking up with food and water. I was lucky I and family help the first year because if I did not have their help I do not know if I would have made it that first winter. I am back in Tucson due to illness. The Dr. suggested that I move back to Tucson. I do miss the snow sometimes. But I know how lucky I am not having to deal with all the problems that come to having a real winter

  • Sarah L November 22, 2013, 9:28 PM

    Good tips. I have a good supply of food and water and lights and batteries.

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