Blizzard preparation is essential for staying safe and warm during harsh winter conditions. Even places known for mild winters, like California and Texas, have experienced blizzard-like conditions in recent years, so it’s crucial–no matter where you live–to learn how to prepare for a blizzard.
Keep reading to learn the specifics on how to prepare for a blizzard, the essential blizzard preparation checklist, and everything else you need to know to do when a blizzard hits your area. Surviving these conditions before hazardous weather strikes can save your life.
How to Prepare for a Blizzard
The average number of blizzards each year has more than doubled over the past two decades, and winter storms are expected to become increasingly frequent and intense due to climate change.
The best course of action for preparing for a blizzard is to become a weather nerd if you aren’t one already. Keeping a close eye on the weather will allow you to see when a potential winter storm or blizzard is coming to your area.
Stocking up on the Important Items
If you’ve ever been to the grocery store the day before (or the hour before) a blizzard is predicted to strike, you know how overcrowded stores are during these times.
If there’s any inkling of snow in the forecast, it’s always a good idea to go to stock up because the truth is, you never know when a little snow might turn into blizzard conditions.
Stocking up on essentials like bread, water, coffee, and your favorite snacks before the crowds hit by staying aware of the forecast will help you stay calm when preparing for a blizzard.
Remember to go to the pharmacy to refill prescription medications and stock up on first-aid items like bandages, peroxide, and antibiotic ointment.
You might also want to stock up on cleaning supplies because what else will you do when you’re stuck inside for days?
A good rule of thumb is to stock up for three days’ worth of supplies during a blizzard, but you may need to stock up for longer if you live in a rural area that is not plowed frequently or live in an area not accustomed to handling blizzard conditions.
How to Avoid Frozen Pipes
Water pipes are frequently an afterthought when thinking about how to prepare for a blizzard, and forgetting about them can be deadly to your house and belongings if they burst!
Pipes tend to freeze if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to prevent them from freezing is to leave your water running at a slow drip.
Power outages can be especially deadly for your water pipes. If your water pipes freeze, apply heat to the pipes as quickly as possible, which can be done with a hair dryer or heat lamp. Note: You should never pour hot water on frozen plumbing.
Knowing When to Stay and When to Go: Safety First
Deciding when to travel during a blizzard and when to stay home is challenging. Blizzards have a way of coming at the worst possible times, like on Christmas or your nephew’s birthday, leaving you with a tough decision: Do I stay or go?
Knowing When to Stay Home
The easiest way to know up-to-date traveler information is to dial 511, which will inform you about weather-related conditions and closures.
Review the entire route you need to take to your destination. If any roads are blocked off or covered with snow, this is your cue to stay where you are because road conditions are unsafe for travel.
Even if roads are open, they may be partially covered, which results in slippery conditions, especially in smaller vehicles. If you do not own a four-wheel drive vehicle, your best bet for surviving a blizzard is to stay home if roads are listed as partially covered on your route.
Blizzard Preparation Checklist
Those who have survived multiple blizzards know that these winter storms are unpredictable, and sometimes you don’t have much notice before a blizzard arrives. That’s why it’s important to know how to prepare for a blizzard with a Blizzard Prep Kit in these situations.
This preparation checklist is stuff you should already have before a blizzard strikes, so you can rest at ease knowing you will survive until the weather calms down.
1. Backup Generator
Having a propane backup generator is vital for preparing for a blizzard. Blizzards are occasionally accompanied by power losses, which are devastating in the frigid temperatures that also come alongside blizzards.
Solar, electric, and propane are the three generator types you will see on the market. Avoid solar and electric for blizzard preparation because the sun is usually not accessible during these storms. The last thing you want is to have an electric generator die during a blizzard with nowhere to charge it.
You can store extra fuel, making it much easier to replenish your propane generator, which will keep you warm longer.
2. Extra Fuel
You want to have at least three days’ worth of fuel stocked up, and the best and safest way to do this is to buy a fuel caddy. The exact amount of fuel you need will depend on what you’re powering with your backup generator and the length of time you’re powering each appliance.
3. Plenty of Water
Water is an absolute essential. Stocking up on plenty will be a great relief when planning how to prepare for a blizzard. Buy a few 5-Gallon Reusable Containers, fill them with purified water, and store them in your house in a safe place, ideally a basement pantry.
If your water heater fails you during a blizzard, you can boil water for bathing because there’s nothing worse than a cold shower when it’s already freezing!
4. Non-Perishable Food Items
You want to have plenty of non-perishable food in stock when preparing for a blizzard, so if you can’t make it to the store before the unthinkable happens, at least you won’t starve.
Here are some ideas of foods to have on hand:
- Canned chicken or tuna
- Frozen Bread
- Shelf-Stable Dairy or Non-Dairy Milk
- Applesauce Cups
- Peanut Butter
- Pasta and Sauce
- Canned Soup
- Canned Chili or the ingredients to make Chili
Don’t forget to have extra pet food, formula, and baby food on hand if you have furry friends and young children.
5. Non-Electric Can Opener
Be sure to have a non-electric or battery-operated can opener like the one linked on hand (it’s the easiest one in the world to use, which is how it’s recommended for seniors with arthritis). You won’t have to worry about hooking up your can opener to your generator.
6. Cat litter (even if you don’t have a cat)
Cat litter is a life hack for blizzards and an item everyone, even those who don’t have a cat, who wants to know how to prepare for a blizzard should have on hand.
Nothing works better than cat litter for providing traction if your vehicle gets stuck and you need to drive somewhere (for an emergency, of course). Always keep a bag of cat litter in your vehicle and a spare in your garage for the iciest conditions.
You should also keep regular ice melt on hand to melt the ice. Cat litter will not melt the ice; it will only help provide traction when stuck.
7. Blankets and warm clothes
The ultimate goal when preparing for a blizzard is to stay warm! Even with a backup generator, powering a home heater takes a lot of energy. You probably won’t want to run your heater continuously on a generator.
Even if you don’t lose power, frigid temperatures make it challenging for your heater to keep up with the cold. When preparing for a blizzard, plenty of fleece pajamas, fleece warm blankets, or even wearable blankets are necessities in your home and car.
8. Snow Clothes
If you’re going outside, whether it’s to clear the driveway or to play in the snow, have your snow gear ready. This Essential Winter Survival Gear list includes recommendations for the best winter clothing.
9. Snow Blower and Shovel
A snow blower and a shovel will come in handy during heavy snowfalls seen in blizzards. If you’re using a shovel to move snow, remember to bend with your knees and lift with your legs. You will save your back.
Using a snow blower to clear the heaviest snow will save you a lot of muscle hassle. If you want to save time, add a snow plow to your vehicle.
If you’re the type of person who ignores winter weather travel warnings, adding one of these plows to your truck will be crucial for how to prepare for a blizzard.
10. Camp Stove or Wood Stove
You want to make sure you’re going to be able to have a hot meal, at all costs, when planning how to survive a blizzard.
Wood-burning stoves also come with the added value of additional warmth if your heater is struggling to keep up with the frigid temperatures or your power is out.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace or unfortunate enough to get caught in a blizzard in the wilderness, you should have Duraflame or a Ready-to-Use Starter on hand. Fire is the best way to stay warm when your heater is down or is struggling to keep up.
Should you decide to invest in a wood-burning stove, avoid using Duraflame (although you can use the Ready to Use Starter wood). Duraflame should also not be used on fireplace inserts with doors.
If you’re using a wood-burning stove, keep hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, birch, or fruit tree wood stocked up.
This list has included a lot about necessities required when preparing for a blizzard, but something you don’t want to forget about is your entertainment. No one wants to die from boredom, after all.
If you have power and your internet is running smoothly, you can use the blizzard as an excuse to binge-watch every episode of Lost or enjoy your favorite blizzard-themed movies like The Day After Tomorrow.
Maybe you’re more of a reader, so you want to have a stash of “blizzard reads” or books downloaded on your Kindle for the occasion (and make sure it’s fully charged in case the power goes out).
Fortunately, a Kindle Reader’s battery life is so hearty that it should have no problem surviving until the power is restored. It can last four to ten weeks on a single charge and lasts the longest when disconnected from Wi-Fi.
If you’re holed up with family or friends, have a stash of card and board games ready to be played. A blizzard is a perfect opportunity to find those unopened game boxes that have been collecting dust.
13. Candles or Battery-Operated Lights
If the power goes out, have plenty of candles or battery-operated lights available.
Check out these lavender candles, which have the calming effect you might need from the stress of being inside without power during a blizzard. They’re also great for sitting beside your bathtub while you take a relaxing hot bath to warm up.
Buy a battery organizer and stock up on every battery you use. This is an essential kit for preparing for a blizzard because you never know when a battery will die.
You will have the best chance of knowing how to prepare for a blizzard and survive it if you purchase a Survival Radio.
These radios are necessary for preparing for a blizzard because many of them also operate as a flashlight, reading lamp, and phone charger–all items you will be grateful to have when the power goes out during a blizzard.
Wrapping up How to Prepare for a Blizzard
Blizzard warnings can be scary, especially if you’re not used to harsh winter conditions. You’re prepared with all you need to know how to prepare for a blizzard and survive with flying colors while sitting back and enjoying the snow day.
Worried about getting stuck outside after a blizzard? Learn how to build a fire in the snow.