Bracing Yourself for a Blizzard: Polar Vortex Preparation

The forecast calls for a blizzard. School will be canceled and the office will close. But before you get too excited about a snow day, make sure your home, your car and yourself are prepared for a winter storm.

Preparing Your House

  • Clean out gutters and remove tree branches that could cause damage during a storm.
  • Avoid snow buildup by clearing paths and driveways.
  • Winterize your home by insulating pipes to avoid freezing and sealing the attic to prevent ice dams.
  • Install battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure the backup batteries for smoke alarms are replaced annually, so they’ll work in a power outage.
  • If you have a generator outside, make sure it’s at least 20 feet from a door, window or vent.
  • Stock up on heating fuel in case regular fuel sources are cut off.
  • Keep rock salt handy to melt icy walkways.

Checking Your Car

Make sure your vehicle is equipped with these supplies. In addition to an emergency kit, here are some easy tasks you can perform yourself:

  • Use an antifreeze tester to check the antifreeze level. Add more as needed to avoid freezing.
  • Buy a de-icing windshield washing fluid to replace your current mixture.
  • Check the tires for correct air pressure and adequate tread. If tires are worn, have them replaced.

Have a mechanic check the following:

  • Battery and ignition system – clean battery terminals and make sure everything is in good shape
  • Brakes – check for wear and tear, as well as fluid levels
  • Exhaust system – ensure there are no leaks in the pipes to prevent carbon monoxide
  • Fuel and air filters – replace filters and use additives to keep water out of the system
  • Heater, defroster and thermostat – check that system is in working order
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability
  • Oil – check oil levels
  • Engine – check fluid levels
  • Headlights and taillights – test that they are working

Stocking Up Supplies

Have an emergency weather radio that provides alerts and sign up to receive important announcements from your local emergency services agency.

Other essentials:

  • Portable charger
  • Extra batteries
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, coats, sweaters and mittens
  • Flashlights or lanterns
  • Spare matches
  • Bottled water
  • Canned/no-cook food
  • Disposable plates, bowls and utensils
  • Manual can opener
  • Rock salt
  • Supply of sand or cat litter
  • Battery-powered lamps
  • Personal medication or dietary products