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Before The Storm

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What to Do Before a Storm Strikes

  • Make an emergency plan and communicate it with your family. Build a 72-hour kit with adequate food, supplies and medications to stay home for several days, if needed. 
  • Check on relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance preparing for a storm.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Know what winter storm watches and warnings mean.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions and avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Let faucets drip a little to help prevent freezing.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Winterize Your Home

  • Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clean out gutters; repair any roof leaks; and have a contractor check the stability of your roof in the event of a large accumulation of snow.
  • Insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Install storm windows, or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Have safe emergency heating equipment available. For residences with functioning fireplaces, keep an ample supply of wood. Utilize portable electric space heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Install and check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; you may have difficulty obtaining fuel in the immediate aftermath of a bad storm.
  • Service snow removal equipment, and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways. Kitty litter can be used to generate temporary traction. 
  • Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case pipes freeze and burst. 

Winterize Your Car

Before winter sets in, have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:

  • Battery
  • Antifreeze
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights (head lamps and hazard lights)
  • Exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster
  • Oil level (if necessary, replace oil with a winter oil or SAE 10w/30 variety)

Install good winter tires that have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Regardless of the season, it's a good idea to prepare for an in-car emergency. Assemble an emergency supply kit for your vehicle, and consider adding the following items for winter conditions:

  • Blankets, sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  • Extra mittens, socks, scarves and hat, rain gear and extra clothes
  • Sack of sand or kitty litter for gaining traction under wheels, small shovel
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Working jack and lug wrench, spare tire
  • Windshield scraper, broom
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, flares or reflective triangles

Refresh yourself on safe winter driving tips and safe travel around snow plows.

Prepare for possible power outage

  • Fill plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one for the frozen water to expand
  • Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer
  • This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out
  • Medication that requires refrigeration usually can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem
  • Back up computer files and operating systems.
  • Turn off and unplug major appliances and sensitive electric equipment until after power is restored.
  • Purchase a high-quality surge protector for electronic equipment.
  • Locate the manual release for your electric garage door opener and learn how to operate it.
  • Keep a traditional, non-cordless telephone available or plan for alternate communication, including a cell phone, radio or pager
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full because gas stations rely on electricity to power the pumps.
  • Make sure to have extra cash at home because equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) may not work during a power outage.
  • Call CSU Line Clearance at 448-4800 if you need tree branches trimmed in or around electric lines.
  • Make arrangements to prepare for unpredictable power outages if you are on electric-powered life support systems by calling Colorado Springs Utilities at (719) 448-4800 and asking about the Life Support Notification Program.