Make sure you’ve followed the basics: learn how to prevent your pipes from freezing (for example, you can open cabinets in places like under sinks to let in heat or let faucets drip), test alarms smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, have batteries for radios and flashlights, charge electronic devices and consider the specific needs of each member of your household, such as medications.
And make sure you have all the grocery supplies you need.
Here’s what you need to make sure you store in your home.
Protein-rich, non-perishable foods
These include foods like energy bars and protein and fruit bars that don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen, Sands said.
Dry cereal, granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, and non-perishable pasteurized milk are also good to have while you lay down.
If a can is swollen, dented or corroded, do not eat it.
While not essential, experts recommend that you have comfort and stress-relieving foods on hand when you weather the storm.
Unopened commercial bottled water is the safest and most reliable water supply, according to the agency. If it’s store-bought water, be sure to check the expiration date.
Plastic bags and containers
Also, be sure to have plastic bags on hand, as you can wrap perishable foods — like cookies — in them and place them in sealed containers, according to FEMA.
Disposable paper plates, cups and utensils
If you lack electricity and water, having paper plates and utensils can help you prepare and eat your meals safely, according to the CDC.
Think babies – and pets
When preparing, do not forget babies and pets in the house.
Make sure you have enough infant formula, as well as anything an infant might need, like diapers, Sands said.
Also, be sure to have several days worth of pet supplies, such as medications and non-perishable food.
(And maybe some treats, as storms can be stressful for them too.)
Check that you have the hygiene products you need, including feminine supplies, toilet paper, wet wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer.
Have an emergency kit
It’s always good to have a disaster kit on hand that’s in a portable container near the exit from your home.
These should include: non-perishable food and a three-day supply of water, battery operated radio and flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit with manual, hygiene items, matches in a waterproof container, a whistle to signal for help if you need it, clothes, blankets and sleeping bags, ID cards, credit cards and money, paper and a pencil, items to cover baby and pet needs and any special items like medicine, contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids and activities for younger children.
Know this about items in the refrigerator:
It’s important not to panic, shop and try to fill your fridge, Sands said.
“How are you going to be able to store this food if you don’t have electricity? Sands said, adding that stocking up on extra groceries can not only lead to food waste, but could also hurt other people who might not be able to find what they’re looking for.
In the event of a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, to avoid letting in cold air. If left unopened, your refrigerator will be able to keep food cold for about four hours, according to Ready.gov.
Throw out any perishable food — like meat, poultry, eggs, or leftovers — that has been left at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.
Fill up your gas tank
During a winter storm, you should try to minimize travel as much as possible, to avoid getting stuck on the road. Make sure if you have to go out you have a full tank of gas, Sands said.
It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit inside each of your family’s vehicles, in case you get stuck.
Tips to keep in mind before the storm
- Have important documents handy in the event of an evacuation, including home or renter’s insurance, Social Security cards, birth certificates and passports, Sands said.
- Create a family communication plan for how you can get in touch if you are separated during the storm.
- Do not bring portable generators, camp stoves and grills inside your home. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your windows, doors, and air vents, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Here’s what those might look like.
- Plan to watch your elderly or disabled neighbors and friends.