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Prepare for an Ice Storm

Updated on April 23, 2011

Ice storms can be scary, stressful, and certainly dangerous.  To survive the storm with as little inconvenience as possible, it’s best to be prepared!

Prepare Your Car

In an ice storm it’s best to not travel at all, but if you do have to travel, be sure to be prepared.  You should carry sand or kitty litter to help weigh down your car and provide traction if you go off the road.  You should also consider having an emergency car heater and an emergency car kit.  Bring some blankets, water, and snacks, so if you do go off the road, you can stay warm and will have needed supplies.

Even if you and your car are staying home, there are things you can do to help it weather the storm. 

1.      Be sure to have a full tank of gas.  This will help your car start easier, and it’s quite likely you’ll have to run your car’s defrost for a while before you can go anywhere after the storm. 

2.      If you park in the garage and you have an electric garage door, you might not be able to get out of your garage if the electricity goes out for an extended period of time.  You might want to be sure you can override the electrical device to open it manually or park outside in the storm, where at least you know you can access your car.

3.      Try to protect your windows.  The best way to keep from having to chip ice off your windshield for hours is to cover it with a thick old blanket secured in the doors or cardboard secured under the windshield wipers.  You can also use a deicer spray or a solution of vinegar and water (2:1) to spray the windows.  Depending on the strength of the ice storm, you might still get ice, but this will minimize build up.

4.      Consider keeping an ice scraper somewhere other than the car.  It’s fully possible that a car kept outside will be completely covered in ice, making it almost impossible for you to get to the ice scraper in your car.

Have candles and/or flashlights in a convenient place in case you lose power.
Have candles and/or flashlights in a convenient place in case you lose power. | Source

Have Alternate Sources of Light

In an ice storm, the electricity is often taken out for days at a time.  It’s important that you have a way to see things around your house.  Make sure that you have extra flashlights and candles, and be sure you know where they are.  Make sure you have matches or lighters for the candles and extra batteries for flashlights.  You might also want to consider things like wind-up lanterns to provide larger sources of light.


You can maximize the light of a candle, flashlight, or even a lantern by placing it in front of a mirror.  The reflection will double the light.

Candles in front of a mirror doubles the light.
Candles in front of a mirror doubles the light. | Source
A bathtub full of water makes it possible to flush the toilet.
A bathtub full of water makes it possible to flush the toilet. | Source

If You Have a Well, No Electricity Means No Water

The pump that brings water up from the well is run off electricity, and if you don’t have electricity, you don’t have water.  Plan ahead.  If you know the storm is getting bad, especially if winds are picking up, you might want to have everyone in the house take one last shower, and then fill the bathtubs with water so that you can flush the toilet.  Keep a cup or jug handy for transporting water from the tub to the toilet tank.  It’s inconvenient to do so, but it certainly beats the alternative!  Having that bathtub filled with water for flushing the toilet can be the difference between a mild inconvenience and a disgusting disaster!


In addition to filling the bathtub with water, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of water for your family to drink.  Fill pitchers and water bottles with water.  You might also want to stock up on bottled water from the store.

Plastic over the window can trap in heat and prevent icy winds from getting inside.
Plastic over the window can trap in heat and prevent icy winds from getting inside. | Source

Trap Heat In

If you lose electricity during an ice storm, your house can get cold quickly.  Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help keep everyone warm. 

1.      If you have a fireplace, be sure you have plenty of wood on hand so you don’t have to risk the ice to get more. 

2.      Cover your windows with plastic.  This will keep the icy wind from coming in and will help preserve what warmth there is left in the house.

3.      Consider putting in door draft stoppers to keep cold air from coming in the bottom of the door.

4.      Have plenty of blankets and warm clothes handy.  Chances are, you’ll all be bundling up.  Consider dressing in layers.

Have Food Ready

Whether you have electricity or not, if you’re going to be stuck in the house for a few days, be sure you have enough food to get you by.  Since losing electricity is a definite possibility in an ice storm, be sure to have foods on hand that don’t need heated.  Granola bars, peanut butter and jelly, and muffins are all easy foods to eat that don’t require a stove or oven.  Head to the store or even whip something up in the kitchen to help prepare yourselves.


Make sure you also have enough food for pets.  As you prepare for yourself for the storm, it’s easy to forget about their needs, too.  It’s best if they eat their own food.  Sure, they’d survive on people food if need be, but for many dogs that could lead to an upset tummy, and an ice storm with no electricity and possibly no water is one of the last times you want to deal with that!

Have Hygiene Products Handy

Personal hygiene can definitely be a struggle, especially if you have no electricity and possibly no water, or at least no warm water. A little planning can make these days less smelly, though.

· If you have children in diapers, be sure you have enough diapers. You won’t be able to run to the store to get more.

· Women might want to make sure they have enough lady products to get them through if they’ll be needing them.

· If it seems like a power loss is imminent, shower! Enjoy your last time to get really clean in what might be a few days.

· Keep waterless hygiene products around.
Baby wipes can be used for a quick waterless bath of your smellier parts.
There are a variety of facial cleanser wipes that are pre-moistened and don’t need rinsed off. These could help keep you or an acne-prone teenager from breaking out.
Hand sanitizer is a good substitute when you can’t wash your hands.
Dry shampoo can keep your head from feeling dirty.  Just spray in, let it sit a few minute to absorb the oils, and brush out.


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