How to Prepare for a Winter Emergency in Your Home

snow-emergency-prepWill you be ready if the power goes out in your home this winter? Are you prepared to handle snow in your community? What happens if the pipes freeze and burst in your home?

The best course of action is to plan now to avoid stress and ill-preparedness in the event of a winter emergency. IKO Community Management shares important tips to handle an emergency this winter.

Put together an emergency toolkit. Ensure you have the necessities should the power go out. When you can't see, don't rely on candles to avoid a potential house fire. Opt for battery-powered flashlights.

When it's hard to communicate, opt for a small radio and walkie-talkies. These battery-operated necessities will allow you to communicate during a winter emergency. You should also keep your cell phone charged with a portable charger or a handheld crank charger from the American Red Cross. This is important, as your cell phone can be used as a communication device and a flashlight.

When it's cold, it's important to find a heat source should the power go out. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, ensure that you have extra logs and kindling. Keep everything covered and dry until you need them, and clean out the chimney. This ensures a near-immediate, warm fire in the case of a winter emergency.

If you can afford it, invest in a home generator. Kerosene space heaters and other combustion sources of heat aren't ideal. Like candles, they're a main cause of accidental house fires.

Dress the part. If the power goes out and your home loses heat, dress in layers of warm clothing. Stock up on extra blankets for the emergency toolkit. Winter weather items like hats, mittens, gloves, and thick coats should be nearby for easy access.

Stock the pantry. If the power goes out, the stove, oven, and plugged-in appliances won't work. Stock up on nonperishable foods like canned goods, nuts, crackers, cereal, and dried fruit. You should also stock up on liters or cases of water in case the pipes freeze.

If you know about the winter emergency in advance, stock up on bread, milk, and other necessities. If you have young children in your home, buy baby formula and snacks.

Prepare a first-aid kit. Keep a first-aid kit with necessary medication near the emergency toolkit. Order extra prescriptions in advance to stock up for an emergency. Buy excess basics like ibuprofen, cold medicine, and bandages for common accidents.

Make a family communication plan. Emergencies can happen at any time. If your family isn't together when an emergency strikes, it's important to know how you'll contact each other. It's also important to understand how you'll get back together and what to do in case of emergency.

If you have young children, teach them to memorize emergency phone numbers. Hang a list of vital emergency numbers on the fridge, so they know exactly where to look and who to call.

Familiarize yourself with your home. For example, if a tree crashes into your kitchen, you need to shut off water and electricity until help arrives. Learn where water and gas shutoff valves are and which circuit breakers go to which parts of your home.

Other basic tips for winter emergencies include to minimize travel, prepare snow shovels and salt, and keep a supply kit in your car.

The best part of these tips is that you already have many of these emergency items in your home. With organization and communication, you can put together a plan for winter emergencies.

For more information on how to handle emergencies in your community, subscribe to the IKO Community Management blog (Subscribe button in sidebar).