15 ways to prepare for a winter storm


A massive winter storm is making its way to the East Coast this weekend — and it’s predicted to impact more than 85 million people. In some areas, authorities are urging people to go home and stay home, and schools and businesses are closing up shop and sending employees home early. 

States that have been or will be affected by winter storm Jonas include: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, and small sections of northern Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.

But, Washington, D.C., is expected to take the brunt of the storm. Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters, ‘People should hunker down, shelter in place and stay off the roads.’

So what do you need in a winter storm? Check out this list of 15 ways to prepare when winter heads your way!

15 ways to prepare for harsh winter weather

Read more: 49 winter hacks to help you stay warm and save money

1. Prepare your car.

Winterize your car and keep your gas tank full! This will prevent the fuel line from freezing. (But don’t overfill your tank.)

Read more: 7 winter driving tips to keep you and your family safe

2. Prepare your home.

If you’re in the direct path of a storm, install storm windows or use a window insulation kit to keep cold air out. This is also a good a good way to protect your home and keep the heating costs down throughout the entire winter, not just in preparation of a storm.

3. Check heating sources.

Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected. (If you will be away from your house during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, and set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.)

4. Have alternate heating sources.

Be sure to have ample alternative heat sources such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves should the power go out.


5. Have a supply kit ready.

These are the items you’ll need, according to the Red Cross!

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Medications (7-day supply)
  • Toilet paper
  • Flashlight
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Extra batteries
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Matches or a lighter.

6. Have an emergency kit handy.

This will include:

  • A first aid kit 
  • Other needed medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)

Read more: 15 must-have items for your emergency survival kit

7. Be ready with enough warm clothing.

Be sure to have warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members.

8. Be sure emergency info is accessible.

Be sure to keep family and emergency contact information in an accessible place.

  • This includes copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies.)

Read more: 11 frugal ways to prepare for an emergency

9. Carry extra cash.

A few hundred dollars safely tucked away is a good precaution.

10. Stay tuned to a weather radio.

Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible).

11. Keep cell phones fully charged.

Be sure cell phones are fully charged and have backup power banks in case the power goes out. 

12. Have adequate baby supplies.

If you have a baby or young child, be sure to keep supplies on hand, such as bottles, formula, baby food, and diapers.


Read more: How to entertain your kids during a winter storm

13. Be ready to handle snow.

Be ready for snow with a snow shovel and a stash of sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.

14. Have adequate pet supplies.

Have enough pet supplies on hand such as food, a collar, leash, ID and carrier, etc.

15. Move pets indoors.

Be sure to keep pets indoors or under shelter. (Here are 7 tips to keep your pets safe during the winter!)

Read more: Leaving pets outside in the winter could cost you a $500 fine

For the full Red Cross Winter Safety Checklist, click here. 

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