What to Do Before an Ice Storm

If you live in a cold climate region, you have probably been faced with the occasional freak out on social media regarding ice storms.  In fact, here in Kansas City the mention of an ice storm is cause for grocery stores and gas stations to look as though we are on the brink of the apocalypse.  Years ago, people knew how to handle themselves without electricity, water, or gas, but modern Millennials (like myself) are often completely in the dark when it comes to this.  So, if you are wondering what to do before an ice storm, this is the starter article for you.

What to Do Before an Ice Storm
Preparing for winter storms in the Midwest

Before progressing, remember, an ice storm is not the end of the world, you are not going to freeze to death, and social media will carry on without you for a day or two.  Before taking any of these steps, it is important to remember that more often than not, the weather service will blow storm possibilities to mammoth proportions.  Just remember, if they did not, the backlash for people not being warned could be devastating.  So, don’t freak out – just be wise.  Take a few practical steps beforehand and you and your family can enjoy the ice in peace and warmth.

Here are some key items to do the day or two before an ice event.

1 – Make sure you have kerosene / heaters ready in case the power goes out. Test them before using and NEVER use while sleeping. They give of toxic fumes, so should always be used with an open window or ventilation.  If you don’t have these, make sure to connect with a neighbor with a fireplace .  You can offer to help chop wood or provide soup in exchange.  
2 – Have water stored and ready.   Use empty bottles, pots, pans, and even the bathtub to store water.
3 – Wash clothes and dishes immediately, in the event you loose power.   In Kansas City we have lost power for over a week and having clean underwear sure helps make things brighter (and less stinky).
4 – Open cabinets of sinks / drains / pipes on outer walls.  Providing proper air flow can help prevent pipes from freezing.
5 – Precook a meal or two. Plan your “no power menus”.  Do not let anyone open or close your refrigerator – under any circumstance.  Store food in coolers in the garage for easy access.  The more you open the freezer and refrigerator doors (even a few times) will let out the cold, causing your food to spoil.
6 – Make sure you have a full propane tank of gas for your outdoor grill.  Meals that can be cooked on the stovetop can often be cooked on the grill.  Use cast iron pans on your grill.
7 – Buy some cheep candles at the Dollar store.  You can use these for making homemade heaters, light, and to simply brighten the house on these ice days.
8 – Pre-salt your outdoor steps to prevent ice buildup. Leave a granola bar for the mail man too .
9 – Make sure pets, animals, chickens have food / water and are protected. Add extra straw and bedding, and feed cracked corn to increase body heat.  Learn how to keep chickens warm in the winter here.
10 – Close shades and blinds to prevent drafts indoors.  It may be beautiful to let the sunshine in, but remember, most houses (even with quality windows) are drafty.  Pulling the blinds will help keep the heat in.  With this in mind, limit or restrict going outside, but if you do, be sure to open / close the door quickly.
11 – Charge electronic devices and be prepared to turn off all power strips in the event of a brown out. Intermittent surges can damage appliances.
12 – Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or single.  Generally speaking, we should be checking in on our neighbors anyway, but during a snow storm, doing so once a day is a common human courtesy.

Additional Tips on What to Do Before an Ice Storm

What to Do Before an Ice Storm
Are you ready for an ice storm?

Once you have the basic covered, here are a few extra tips for you to prepare a little more and make things a tad more exciting.

  • Find old board games to play and books that you have not read in a while.  Organize family game and reading time – snuggle!
  • If you have a generator, test it out and be sure to hook it up properly.  Youtube this or have a professional show you, because you can fry your home electrical panel if you do it improperly.
  • Fill up your bird feeders before hand and keep warm water in the bird bath.   Watching birds out the window can provide great family entertainment during snow and ice storms.
  • If you are on a prescription medication, get refills before the storm arrives.
  • Brainstorm a list of activities and old games you played as a child: charades, win / lose or draw, coloring books, indoor hide and seek, fort building, etc.
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