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Moving to a winter wonderland

What to expect and how to react to blizzards and winter storms at your new home.

If you're planning to move to one of the northern states, chances are you're going to experience your fair share of blizzards, winter storms and snow. It's important to figure out everything you might have to deal with before moving to an area that suffers from moderate to harsh winters. Doing a little research beforehand could go a long way when you encounter hazards common to the region of your new home.

Nature is beautiful, but it can also be dangerous and volatile. Knowing the average temperature and humidity of your new climate gives you an idea of what kind of weather to expect over the seasons. It also helps you make adjustments to your wardrobe if the general temperature is different from what you're used to. The National Climatic Data Center has many tools you can use to learn about the weather in different regions across the U.S.

Typical winter storms see snow or freezing rain with high winds and low temperatures. This combination of factors can often prove chaotic and sometimes even deadly. More severe winter storms that last longer periods of time and drop to colder temperatures become blizzards.

Dangers

  • Car accidents are the leading cause of death in a winter storm. Slippery conditions and low visibility make driving and walking during a storm perilous.
  • Overexertion from shoveling is an unsuspecting culprit. 
  • Wind chill makes hypothermia a very serious threat as well. High winds and cold temperatures quickly diffuse body heat.
  • Fierce winds and ice often bring down power lines leaving thousands without electricity, heat, and communication.
  • Trees and branches are also at a high risk of falling from ice and wind.
  • Fires are always an unexpected problem that could be worsened by a winter storm. Water mains may be frozen or roads for fire trucks could be blocked, delaying help. Most fires in winter are caused by fireplaces, wood stoves and portable heaters.

Preparation

In order to weather out a storm so you, your family, and your property are unscathed, it's best to be prepared. The safest thing anyone can do is stay inside during a winter storm. Traveling for needless reasons doesn't do much more than put yourself and others at risk. You can always listen to the local news or radio to find out about school and other cancelations. Ready.gov has a list of tips to prepare for a winter storm, but here are a few:

  • Make sure your car's exhaust pipe isn't blocked and has a full tank of gas so the fuel line doesn't freeze.
  • Have a bag of rock salt or sand ready for your sidewalk and walkway.
  • To keep your pipes from freezing, insulate them or let the faucet drip a little and learn how to shut off your water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Make sure your windows are caulked and your house is insulated so it retains warmth longer and your heating bill doesn't skyrocket.
  • Shovel in increments as the snow falls allows you to not have to work too hard all at once and keeps you from getting too cold. Always have at least a good shovel if not a snow blower ready to go.
  • Keep a small supply of candles, bottled water, non-perishable food and a small back-up power supply.
  • To prevent fires, watch your candles and be aware of where you put your space heaters and ash deposits. One of the first things you should do in your new home is set up your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with new batteries.

Once you and your new home are prepared for nature's worst, you can enjoy the beauty of winter with ease of mind and play in the snow. Don't forget to stay warm.

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