You’ve seen the photos and read the bad news: Winter weather is off to a wicked start.
From the unseasonably warm and (thunder)stormy conditions in the South and Midwest, to snow and ice in… well, the South and Midwest, too, Mother Nature is wreaking havoc this year with winter just a week old. The coasts haven’t been left alone, either. Take this news report from a couple of weeks ago: ‘A storm in Southern California on Friday that dropped 6 inches of snow at higher elevations created rain, hail and thunderstorms elsewhere.’ And just this week, Winter Storm Goliath pushed into the Northeast.
You’ll need more than just a slingshot in your garage to help your family and your home get through weather like this. Though the forecast has called for mild temperatures, the resulting storms have been anything but. It’s best to prepare for the worst in these conditions, meaning now is the time to stock up on products that will get you through the rowdiest weather this winter has to offer — be it rain, snow or worse.
The best emergency products for bad weather
Consumer Reports has some recommendations for three useful items in inclement winter weather: power generators, snow blowers and chainsaws for those threatening tree limbs.
- Generators are expensive, but they can keep the heat on during a power outage and make a home livable. One option Consumer Reports suggests on the less pricey end of the scale is the Ridgid RD906812B ($1,000), which ‘provides ample power, cleanly and consistently,’ as well as automatic shutdown features that preserve the machine in the event of low oil or fuel. The best-reviewed generator is the $4,000 Honda EU7000is, preferred for its quiet running.
- Snow blowers also have a wide cost disparity. Consumer Reports’ ‘hands-down’ top pick is the Cub Cadet 3X 30HD 31AH57SZ710, whose tremendous power is designed for those who receive up to two feet of snow regularly — or, in the case of this wild winter, might be subject to an unusually harsh storm. That device comes in at $1,650. For more than a grand less, the Toro Power Clear 721E tested well for moderate snowfalls, and it’s light enough to lift and use on an elevated surface.
- The least costly of the three emergency tools reviewed is the chain saw, but it can be an effective item for protecting a home. These machines can be heavy and tough to haul around — particularly problematic when the ground is slick — so the Stihl MS 180 C-BE ($230) comes highly recommended. Its relatively light weight and speedy cutting are the major pluses. A suggested product for lighter work is the $100 Worx WG303.1, which despite its possible bumpiness — it lacks vibration dampening — is rated highly for efficiency, especially for its size.
And with this winter producing weather that resembles spring more than the cold months, it’s a good idea to make sure your home’s standard emergency preparedness kit is stocked. Consult the National Weather Service’s guide for tips, and keep a good flashlight — as well as batteries — handy.
Here are more tips to prepare your family and home: