What to do after a Snowstorm or Blizzard

After snow has stopped, you might be tempted to get out of the house to shovel your sidewalks or go to the store to re-stock your supplies. Consider these tips before you head outside:

Dress appropriately for the weather.

There’s a good chance it’s still pretty chilly outside, so make sure you’re wearing warm enough clothing. Wear warm, waterproof boots with good tread, as sidewalks, parking lots, and roads are likely to be wet and slippery.

Clear your sidewalks

Shovel your sidewalks and walkways (or use a snowblower if you have one), then apply a de-icing product to help melt any ice and prevent slips.

Stay off the roads if possible

After a major snowstorm, it can take communities a while to plow their roads. Avoid driving as much as possible until roads have been cleared and coated with salt or sand. If you have to drive somewhere, go slowly and stick to major routes that are more likely to be clear.

Check for a buildup of snow and ice on your roof

Ice dams can do serious damage to your home, and they shouldn’t be ignored. If you notice a buildup of ice or snow on your roof, consider hiring a professional to safely remove it.

Contact your insurance company

If your car or home has been damaged.

If you’re wondering how your home insurance policy could protect you if your home or car is damaged as a result of a snowstorm or blizzard, contact your licensed insurance agent.

Beware of frost cracks

  • More common than most think
  • Can be caused by temperature fluctuations
  • Impacts the out layer of wood

One of the most misunderstood problems your trees may face after a heavy snowfall is the frost crack. These are caused by a sudden drop in temperature that is somewhat characteristic of heavy snowfalls. The outer layer of wood contracts more rapidly than the inner layer, which results in a long, vertical crack somewhere on the trunk. You can have more than one crack at a time, and some cracks will reappear every year when there is nasty weather.

The Morton Arboretum explains: “Frost cracks, sometimes called radial shakes, appear as shallow to deep longitudinal cracks in the trunk of trees. They are most evident in winter at temperatures below 15°F. Frost cracks often, but not always, occur on the south or southwest sides of trees because this area experiences the greatest temperature fluctuations between day and night.”

The trees that are most susceptible to this problem include the London plane, oak, Norway and red maple, horse chestnut, crabapple, walnut, linden, and willow.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do after a snowstorm is simply to wait. You don’t want to do too much to your trees when they are wet, cold, and weighed down by heavy snow. Instead, you want to wait and allow gravity and nature to take its course.

If the storm is heavy already and doesn’t show signs of stopping, you can use a broom or your hands to remove snow from shorter trees or the lower branches of bigger trees. However, you should not try to remove ice from trees. This will cause the branches or trunk to warp and possibly break, according to NC State Extension.

Check Your Detectors

Check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. This is especially important if you’ve lost power due to the winter weather. Using generators, gas, logs or other heat sources to heat your home can create safety issues such as excessive carbon monoxide or smoke in the home. The use of candles and fires during and after power outages also increases the risk of fire.

Inspect the Plumbing

Look for broken pipes and other plumbing issues. Severe cold weather wreaks havoc on plumbing and can lead to burst or cracked pipes. Check interior areas as you run water to ensure nothing is leaking. When it’s safe to do so, go outside and uncover external pipes to do the same. If you discover any issues, turn off your water and contact a professional to help you address the problem.

Check for Other Exterior Damage

Look for downed trees that might have damaged your property, broken windows or caused other issues. In some instances, you may need help removing the trees or fixing the damage. But as these services may be delayed by increased demand, address what you can on your own. For example, you may be able to safely cover a broken window with plywood to keep winter winds and moisture from entering your home. Check your vehicles for damage, too.

Post-Blizzard Safety Tips

Unless you have a snowblower, you’re probably stuck digging yourself out by hand. It’s important to know that shoveling snow is a major cardio workout — one most of us aren’t conditioned for. You may not have another choice when you’re faced with drifts on your driveway that are several feet high, but keep in mind that intense snow shoveling can actually increase heart attack risk.

When possible, wait for plows to clear snow. If you’re shoveling your porch, driveway or sidewalks, pay attention to how your body feels and take plenty of breaks. Consider sharing the job with someone else if possible.

Other safety tips to follow after blizzards include:

  • Survey any area before walking or working in it. Make sure there are no downed power lines or other hazards.
  • Dress correctly for the weather. If it’s below freezing, wear appropriate clothing along with gloves and hats. This will help your body conserve heat and will also reduce the risk of exposure issues.
  • Stay on top of personal needs, like medications. If at all possible, make sure you have extras of necessary supplies on hand before a blizzard starts. If you can’t do that, start working to address your needs as quickly as possible after the blizzard, as it may take longer than normal to get what you need.