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What To Do Before And After A Winter Storm

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As winter approaches, you should prepare for dangerous weather, especially if you live in an area known for having ice and snowstorms. Since a strong storm can cause significant property damage, it’s a good idea to learn how to prepare your car or house for the winter season. Doing so can help save you money on repairs and avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you’re unsure where to start, continue reading to learn some ways to prepare your property, what to do after a winter storm hits your area and how to deal with any damages.

Preparing Your House For Winter

You can do several things to prepare your property for the winter, such as getting your furnace checked, cleaning your gutters and testing your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Taking these steps could prevent your pipes from bursting, minimize water damage and save your life.

For more ideas on how to protect your home, review our home winterization checklist.

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Preparing Your Car For Winter

During the fall, you or a trusted mechanic should inspect your car to make sure it can withstand cold temperatures. Here are some things to check:

  • Windshield wiper fluid: Before winter comes, consider adding windshield fluid that has a deicer or antifreeze in it to help melt snow and ice on your windshield.
  • Antifreeze levels: Make sure your car has the right amount of antifreeze in it to prevent the engine from freezing during extremely cold weather.
  • Tire pressure: When the temperature drops, this can cause your tires to lose air pressure. If your tires become underinflated, it can make your vehicle unsafe to drive. To avoid this, check your pressure once a week and inflate it to the proper level recommended in your owner's manual.
  • Tire treads: To reduce your chances of losing control of your vehicle on icy roads, check the tire treads to see if they are deep enough to maintain traction during winter driving. If you want to ensure you’re getting the best level of safety, consider purchasing snow tires.
  • Car battery: Check your battery at home or take it to an auto parts store that performs free tests.
  • Oil change: Although the amount of time you should wait between oil changes varies, you should see if it needs to be replaced before and after winter arrives. To identify any leaks, you should check your oil at least once a month, according to Consumer Reports.

Supplies

When driving during the winter, keep an emergency kit in your car. Here are some items you should include:

  • Extra cell phone chargers
  • Blanket
  • Protein bars or other snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Jumper cables
  • Snow shovel
  • Extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Ice scraper
  • Portable radio
  • Kitty litter
  • Flashlight
  • Tire chains

If you find yourself stuck in your car during a snowstorm, check your exhaust pipe to make sure it’s not clogged before running it to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

What To Do After A Winter Storm Emergency

If a winter storm has caused damage to your property and you have insurance, consider filing an insurance claim. Don’t have insurance or it doesn’t cover everything? There are alternative financing options you can use to cover repairs.

  • Filing Insurance claims: Contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers damages to your car or home. Although you may have to pay your deductible before the insurance kicks in, this can reduce your out-of-pocket repair expenses.
  • Personal loans: If you need quick access to funds, consider applying for a personal loan for emergencies. This type of loan typically comes with a fixed interest rate and is repaid in fixed monthly installments. To qualify, you must meet a lender’s eligibility requirements or apply with a cosigner who has good credit and a stable income, if available.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant: If the President of the United States declares the winter storm a national disaster, you may qualify for a federal grant. To apply, visit gov.
  • Other disaster assistance programs: In addition to federal aid, some states and nonprofit companies may offer financial assistance to help you pay for essential expenses, like food and utilities. To see what programs are offered in your area, consider reaching out to your local chamber of commerce or reviewing your county’s website.

Protect What’s Precious

While predicting when a major snowstorm will happen is impossible, it’s wise to prepare for one. This means taking some of the steps mentioned above to protect your car, home and your most precious asset – your own life.

If a winter storm causes damage to your property, file an insurance claim. But if you’re uninsured or your insurance doesn’t cover the repairs, explore other funding options, like taking out an personal loan for emergency use or seek other assistance programs.

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