Gearing Up for Winter Storms

Gearing Up for Winter StormsIn Minnesota and Wisconsin, winter storms are a very real and very frequent threat. Sometimes, you get plenty of warning before one hits. But other times, the storm seems to come out of nowhere and catch everyone by surprise. As a public adjuster in MN and WI, we have helped many residents who have had to file insurance claims after a particularly severe winter storm. Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare for a blizzard and what to do if one damages your home or property.

Get the Basics

Before a winter storm is even predicted, stock up on some basics. That way, even if a storm comes out of nowhere, you are prepared. Here are just a few examples of items you should always have on hand:

  • A shovel – this is a great tool to have when you are trying to dig your way out of your home or if you are trying to dig your car out.
  • A flashlight, plenty of extra batteries, candles and matches or a lighter – a flashlight is invaluable if your power goes out and you need to see in the dark. The candles are just in case your flashlight breaks or you run out of batteries.
  • Canned food, nonperishable food and bottled water – be sure you have enough on hand to last you and your family for several days. You should also have a non-electric can opener too. Bottled water is great to have in case your pipes freeze or if your water needs electricity to run and the electricity goes out.
  • Plenty of blankets and some warm clothing – again, these items are just in case your power goes out. Hats, gloves or mittens and a scarf or two are also good things to have just in case you need some extra layers to keep warm.
  • A battery-operated radio – this is also invaluable if your power goes out. If you have this kind of radio, you can still stay connected to the outside world and stay on top of the latest weather and emergency information.
  • Prescription medicine – if you or a loved one has a medication that is needed on a daily basis, have a spare bottle of it if possible.
  • First aid kit – your kit should include bandages, antibiotic spray or ointment, gauze and over the counter painkillers.
  • Cell phone – make sure your cell phone stays fully charged throughout the entire storm and the storm’s aftermath, if possible.
  • Gas – your car should have a full tank of gas, just in case you need to evacuate your home or if an emergency comes up. (Only drive if the roads are safe! Otherwise, calling 911 is your best bet if you are experiencing an emergency.)

Stay Informed

Before, during and directly after a winter storm, you should always keep an eye on the news and your local forecast. You can also tune into social media, like Facebook, for updates if need be. Government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service have Facebook pages.

Also, a cell phone is a great item to have during a winter storm. Text messaging can sometimes be used if the phone lines are down, so you can still stay connected to loved ones even if the phone lines aren’t up and running.

Preparing Your Home

There are a few things you can do around your house to make sure it is prepared for the freezing temperatures. Make sure all of your outdoor water pipes are turned off. Drain water from your irrigation system if you have one. Drain and remove all outdoor hoses too.

Make sure all debris is cleared from your outdoor HVAC unit. This can help ensure it continues to function properly. If it is safe to do so, go outside during the storm periodically to make sure ice has not accumulated on the unit.

Open up your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and leave them open during the storm. This can help warm air circulate around the plumbing. Also, if necessary, turn on all of the faucets and let a small amount of water drip through them. That way, there is water constantly running through the pipes and that decreases the chances of them freezing.

The Aftermath

Do not go outside if it is still storming out or if it is very slippery and icy, even if you suspect your home or property has been damaged. Wait until the weather clears up and it is safe to venture outdoors.

As soon as it’s safe to do so, go outside and slowly walk around the perimeter of your home. Take note of any damage you see, even if it’s only a small amount. What appears to be a minor dent or a bit of damage can actually be indicative of a larger problem. Take pictures or video if you can. Then contact your insurance company to begin the claim process.

If you feel like the amount of money your insurance company is offering you is not fair, that is where we come in. We are a public adjuster, so we can help you get the money you are entitled to under your insurance policy.

Call us at 866-512-5677 (LOSS) or contact us for a Free Consultation.