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Ice Storm - How To Prepare and What To Do

Updated on December 28, 2014

How To Prepare For Ice Storm

One of the most dangerous conditions in winter is an ice storm. Since during one everything becomes covered in a thick layer of ice.

This leaves you with very little traction, which makes driving and even walking very difficult and dangerous. The buildup of the ice on the trees and power lines can cause both to come down. Which is a hazard to you if you are outside when they fall. Plus if it knocks out he power it can leave you without heat or a way to prepare food.

I have had to live through a few of them, including the recent one in December of 2013. So I thought I would create a list of things you need to be aware of and have on hand to be prepared for the next ice storm.

All images © of whatsittoyou

During Ice Storms - Charge Your Cell Phone and Keep It Handy

When I heard about the ice storm warning I made sure that my cell phone was fully charged. I might need it to call for roadside assistance. If the power was off at work, I would be able to check the local hydro company's website for an estimate of when the power would be turned back on. I have done this twice this year. Both times I had the information before upper management who were calling them directly.

Your cell phone can also get you the latest news and weather updates. This can be very important if the city is releasing statements such as locations of warm up centers or water drinking advisories. They can also keep you in contact with your family and friends in case you or they need help.

2013 Ice Storm Video

An Alarm Clock With Battery Back Up

I knew an ice storm would mean getting up and leaving earlier, to give me plenty of time to get to work. During any storm there is a possibility that I could lose power overnight. So way back when I moved out of my parents house I bought an alarm clock with battery backup.

That way even if the power goes out my clock and alarm will still work. Another benefit of having one is that you can use it to listen to the news for updates. It can also be used to listen to some music while you wait.

Car Ice Scraper and De-Icer

When the last ice storm hit I was scheduled to go into work that day. I had watched the news, so I knew my car would likely be covered in ice the next morning. So the night before I brought my scraper inside with me, so that I would have it in the morning to help me get into my car. I also know from a previous experience it is a good idea to have lock de-icer on hand. I have needed it to get into my car and to get into my home.

Motor Medic by Gunk DE1 Automotive Windshield De-Icer - 12 oz.
Motor Medic by Gunk DE1 Automotive Windshield De-Icer - 12 oz.

You can use this to spray into locks. You can also use it to spray onto your windshield and windows to melt the ice on your car.


Ice Storm - You Need To Drive Carefully

When there has been an ice storm you need to be very careful when driving. If there is ice on the road it doesn't matter if you have a 4x4 or winter tires there is still a high possibility for a crash. You need to slow down, increase the distance between cars, keep both hands on the wheel, and completely focus on your driving.

Even when doing all of these things your car may still start to spin out, but you will have a better chance of recovering and avoiding a crash. Another reason to do these things is there maybe trees or other debris that has fallen onto the road. A fallen tree also may have knocked down a power line.

When the power lines are down we lose electricity. This can lead to many problems such as traffic lights being out. If people don't follow the proper protocol (treating the traffic lights as a 4 way stop) car accidents are bound to occur. If a power line comes down on your car, stay inside the car. If a power line is live you can be killed just being near it, you do NOT have to come in contact with it directly.

Ice Storm Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size

How Cell Phones Can Help You

When I arrived at work the power was off. We had to wait for at least 4 hours to see if the power came back on. The power had already been off for a few hours so we left our coats on to stay warm. One of the guys had a Galaxy Note so we sat around it and watched a movie while we waited.

After about an hour and a half a couple of us went to Tim Hortons to get coffee for everyone. With the power being an issue in many places, debit and credit cards didn't work, they were only able to take cash.

We all used our cell phones to check on our families and to let them know what was happening. I also used my cell phone to periodically check the website for updates on when the power might get turned back on. When they posted that the power wouldn't likely come back on until 10pm they called upper management. That was when they decided to send us home.

Samsung Galaxy S3 i9300 16GB Factory Unlocked International Version (White) - NO WARRANTY
Samsung Galaxy S3 i9300 16GB Factory Unlocked International Version (White) - NO WARRANTY

This is my cell phone that I used to look up the latest information about the storm.


No Electricity At Home

When I got home I found out I did not have electricity there now either as a tree had taken down a power line nearby. I have learned from my previous experiences that you need to make sure you have flashlights and batteries handy to keep your home lit. You need to be able to see in the dark to prevent injuries from falling. You do not want to use candles as those can easily be knocked over and start a fire.

You have to be careful when using some methods for heat as they can give off carbon monoxide gas and it can kill you. So the safe way to keep you and your family warm, is to keep some extra warm blankets on hand to be able to wrap yourself in. These will help to keep all of you warm while the power is off.

If your power is going to be off for an extended period of time call around to your friends and relatives to see if any of them have power. See if you can visit or stay with them for a little while to warm up. If you are the one who has electricity you may want to offer your friends or relatives the chance to warm up or have a shower. The shower would be nice as even if they have running water they wouldn't be able to dry their hair with no electricity.

Rayovac Sportsman 240 Lumen LED Lantern, SE3DLNACOM
Rayovac Sportsman 240 Lumen LED Lantern, SE3DLNACOM

I bought one of these lanterns after the black out that happened in the early 2000's. They are great for lighting up a room in a way that a handheld flashlight can't do. I have been able to read a book using one of these.

Batman, Batman in Black Adult Comfy Throw with Sleeves, 48" x 71"
Batman, Batman in Black Adult Comfy Throw with Sleeves, 48" x 71"

They now have snuggie style blankets with super hero characters on them, like this Batman one. You can also chose superman, spiderman, or wonder woman. They also have Harry Potter and Big Bang Theory designs available.


Emergency Food and Water

You want to have drinking water available in case of any interruption to the water supply. This can occur due to power issues at the water treatment plant or burst water mains and pipes. Try to keep about 3 days' supply of drinking water on hand.

The loss of electricity also means trouble with cooking meals. When an ice storm warning is given, you should prepare yourself to be able to handle the situation. Make sure that you have some available food that does not have be heated up before eating it. Do not try to cook with a barbecue indoors as this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another thing to consider is food safety. You will need to throw out your food if the power is off for:

Over 4 hours - Food in the refrigerator

Over 24 hours - Everything that was in a half full freezer

Over 48 hours - Everything that was in a full freezer

Do You Have Any Other Tips or Advice?

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