There’s no truer statement than the old adage “you can’t control the weather.” You can’t­ even predict it with complete certainty. As advanced as our meteorological forecasting techniques are these days, weather systems are changeable forces of nature. They can come on quickly, switch direction without notice and build in intensity in a short period of time. Whether you’re at home, on foot, in your car or at work, a winter snowstorm can catch you off guard.

The Nation­al Snow and Ice Data Center defines a blizzard as a “violent winter storm, lasting at least 3 hours, which combines below freezing temperatures and very strong wind laden with blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than 1 km.”

If a blizzard is bad enough, snow plows and salt trucks won’t even brave the elements. Roads become desol­ate ice paths, businesses shut down, schools close and grocery stores get picked clean. If your home loses power and you have no backup heating system in place, your very life becomes at risk. In this article, we’ll give you 10 tips on how to survive a snowstorm.

10. Be Prepared

 One thing you’ll want if a blizzard hits is runnin­g water. Water pipes tend to fr­eeze in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (about -7 degrees Celsius). Prevent this by wrapping your interior pipes with foam insulation. If the temperature is dropping, leave your faucets running at a slow drip.

You should also do simple things like pay your utility bills on time and keep your cell phone charged. Losing gas or electricity to an unpaid bill before a snowstorm hits is a mistake you won’t want to make. If a blizzard knocks out your power and home phone service, turn your charged cell phone off and save the charge for emergency calls.

Head on to the following pages for the next snowstorm tips.

9. Stock Up on Food

As wi­th preparing your home,­ it’s also vital to have your stock of food supplies ready when the storm blows in. In places that don’t typically get severe winter weather, grocery­ stores are often jam-packed with shoppers when a storm is imminent. To avoid walking the crowded aisles and staring at empty shelves, stock up ahead of time. Make a list of items you’d need for each member of your household to live for seven days, more if you live in a cold-weather region. And make sure you don’t forget your pets — keeping a stash of dog and cat food is a good idea. You should also include medicines and personal items like deodorant, toothpaste, soap and shampoo.

Canned and dry goods are the best way to store food long term. Canned fruits and vegetables may not be the best, but they’re good to have on hand to ensure that you don’t eat boxed macaroni for a solid week. Also keep at least five gallons of water on hand. If you can’t live without that morning cup of coffee, buy a stove-top percolator or French press to use if your power goes out.

8. Buy Batteries

Get a box and fill it with some emerge­ncy equipment, then store it out of the way. Includ­e a flashlight or two with plenty of extra batteries. Hand-crank flashlights are good for a long-term situation, but not really necessary. Buy a battery operated AM/FM radio or weather monitor to keep tabs on the storm system. If you have electric heating, buy a kerosene heater and enough fuel for a week of steady use. It’s important to make sure the heater is ventilated properly. If you have fireplace, keep a stash of emergency wood on hand and don’t use it unless you’re snowed in.

Sleeping bags and wool blankets are also a good idea to have on hand. If you have an electric stove, it’s smart to invest in an inexpensive camping stove and some fuel canisters. You can find dual-burner propane models for about $100 [source:]. If your refrigerator goes out, use a cooler packed with snow or ice to keep your food fresh.

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