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4 Ways to Prepare for Winter Weather Emergencies

Old man winter is on his way - and that means dealing with cold, snow, and ice. Winter storms can strike at any time and it pays to be prepared when a big one blows through town with the following tips.

1. Get a generator that fits your needs

You don’t want to get caught unprepared if a major winter storm hits. In some of the worst cases, you may lose power for hours, or even days. Having a generator on-hand can provide some much-needed power if the lights go out for long periods of time.

What kind of generator you need will be dictated by what kind of power you want it to provide. If you want some backup power for your fridge, and can’t live without your coffee, you’ll need a smaller unit than if you want to provide power to the whole house.

Champion Power Equipment can help you decide which kind of generator you’ll want that fits your needs. Remember that you should never bring your portable generator indoors, and don’t use the oven as a source to keep warm.

2. Put together an emergency preparedness kit

Beyond the generator, build an emergency preparedness kit. Your kit should include flashlights, first-aid materials, batteries, a manual can opener, sanitizing wipes, and food and water for at least three days. If you’ve already got your kit prepared, make sure the first-aid kit is still fully stocked, and nothing is expired.

If the power is out, disconnect your appliances and electronic equipment in case of a momentary power surge. Power surges can permanently damage your electronics - I once experienced a surge and lost all my electronics, which included a brand new stereo system. You can also have a licensed electrician install surge protectors in your home to guard your electronics. Believe me, you only have to experience one power surge to wish you’d installed protection.


3. Lower your risk for ice dams

Your roof is going to take the brunt of the winter storms - and you need to make sure it’s up to the task. Ideally, your roof won’t get a lot of snow buildup, and in a perfect world, the snow can slick right off the roof.

If snow gathers on your roof, look for any hot spots where the snow has melted. You shouldn’t be seeing any bare spots on the roof (except around exhaust vents) because that’s a sign of heat loss. If you’re losing heat on your roof, you could be vulnerable to ice dams, which is when ice forms at the edge of the roof that prevents melting snow from draining off the roof properly. In extreme cases, the water can back up behind the ice, and leak into the home causing major damage to your interior.

You can shore up your roof’s defence against the winter weather by adding some more insulation to the attic space, preventing heat from escaping in the first place.


4. Properly remove snow

When the snow falls, make sure you’re promptly removing any snow from your walkways and sidewalks. You need a clear path from your entryways so you can leave quickly and safely in case of an emergency. Remember, you could be liable for what happens on your property, so if someone injures themselves because you didn’t properly clear a route,  you could be held responsible.

You also want to shovel snow away from your foundations and exhaust pipes. Concrete is porous and once that snow starts to melt, you’re potentially letting water seep through and into your home, which can lead to severe damage like mould and rot.

If you have elderly neighbours, or there are members of the community who face challenges with mobility, do the neighbourly thing and offer to help them shovel their walkways.

About the Author

Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, is working with Associa to refine the standards and protocols that today’s Homeowner’s Associations use to Make It Right™ for their homeowners. He brings more than 35 years of experience in renovations, construction, and inspection services, and is best known as the contractor and host of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Makes It Right” where he rescues homeowners from repair and renovation disasters.