Winter Weather and Your Home

Your home should be just as prepared for winter as you are. Winter storms can quickly become severe, knocking down power and telephone lines. Roads can quickly become treacherous making it difficult or impossible to get out of the house. Here are some tips to help ease the hardships you and your family could suffer while riding out the snow and cold at home.

Before winter's fury hits, make sure your home is well insulated. Caulk and weather strip doors and windows to help keep the heat in and the cold out. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.

Have some type of emergency heating equipment available so you can keep at least one room warm enough to be livable if your furnace is not operating. Know how to use this emergency heating equipment safely to prevent a fire or inhaling dangerous fumes.

Stock an emergency supply of food. Even if you live close to a grocery store, their supplies will dwindle fast if roads are closed to supply trucks. Include foods that require no cooking or refrigeration or have emergency cooking facilities in case of power failure. Natural foods like raisins and other dried fruit are great quick-energy producers.

Also, do not forget to stock a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, a battery powered radio and extra batteries.

Should your furnace fail, keep water pipes from freezing. Wrap the pipes in insulation made especially for water pipes or tie layers of newspaper around the pipes. Cover the newspaper with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little. Although this wastes water, it may prevent freeze damage. Know how to shut off the water coming into the house. As a last resort you may have to shut off this main valve and drain all the pipes to keep them from freezing and bursting.

Do not hesitate to ask for help if the situation at home starts to get out of control. Call a neighbor or a local social or emergency service agency. Write those phone numbers down in advance and keep them handy. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.