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Six tips to keep you safe during the next big winter storm

Posted by Scott Stueber on Feb 3, 2015 9:39:00 AM


Every year when spring rolls around, we find ourselves practicing tornado drills or we talk to our families about fire safety. The goal in both cases is to be prepared and to keep our families safe in case of a real event. In the past, I’ve written blogs about both topics; however, do you ever think about being prepared for a winter storm?

I really don’t think too much about it. Maybe it’s because Southeast Wisconsin hasn’t seen a significant winter storm in the past several years.

Many have viewed the images and stories from Winter Storm Juno. In talking with my wife, I found it interesting that not only did the eastern states receive significant snowfall, they were hit hard with damaging high winds and rising tide that caused significant damage, damage you don’t think about during a winter storm.

Winter storms can be as dangerous as other storms we face throughout the year. They cripple our society by shutting down schools, transportation, and vital services.

According to reports from Munich Re, winter storms caused an estimated $2.3 billion in insured losses in 2014.

Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe when the next big winter storm hits.

  1. Understand what your insurance policy covers. There are a variety of things a standard policy covers, such as vehicle crashes, wind-related damage, and burst pipes. Depending on the insurance policy you bought, it may not cover everything.

    If you experience flooding during a winter storm, it’s not covered under a standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy. A separate policy must be purchased through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. Talk to your insurance agent if you have questions about your policy.

  2. Consider alternate heating sources. If you live in an area, that’s frequently hit with storms or power outages, consider purchasing a generator or an additional heating source that doesn’t rely on electricity. Consult with your agent as not every heating source is covered by insurance.

  3. Understand what the different advisories and warnings mean. This winter, a few storms changed course leaving Southeast Wisconsin with little snow fall. Nevertheless, you should know the difference between a winter storm watch, winter storm warning, blizzard warning, etc.

  4. Winterize your home. Take advantage of those nice fall days to make sure your home is ready. Consider a furnace inspection and chimney cleaning yearly. Once the winter season begins, keep an eye on your roof. Heavy snow can lead to collapse. Freezing and thawing temperatures can lead to ice dams.

  5. Winterize your vehicle. Consider taking your car to your local mechanic for a checkup or to make that repair you’ve been neglecting. If you’re taking a longer road trip, share your travel details with family and friends and take a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food. Lastly, don’t forget extra medication.

  6. Always ask yourself … Every day we encounter risk. The goal of insurance is to transfer risk and protect yourself and your property. Insurance, however, can’t protect you from everything. Severe storms and other weather conditions can put us more at risk. Ask yourself:

    • Does it make sense to drive too fast for conditions?
    • Does it make sense to ignore alerts and warnings?
    • Does it make sense to set your heat low to save on energy costs?
    • Does it make sense to shovel snow yourself instead of asking for help?

    Do you have any tips you would like to share? If so, I’d love to hear them. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Weather

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