“Ice storm” isn’t a phrase that any Kansas City area homeowner wants to hear from the weather report, but ice storms do happen. They may not be too common, but when they do sweep through the region, they often leave a terrible mark, causing landscapes to become dangerously slippery in a matter of hours.
Exactly what is an ice storm? The term is characterized by freezing rain that causes 2 to 6 inches of ice to accumulate on any and all exposed surfaces. As you can imagine, that much ice can do a lot of damage, even if you aren’t trying to chisel out your car and drive it. Trees may buckle under the weight, power lines and even poles can collapse, and essential electrical infrastructure, including transformers themselves, have been known to fail spectacularly.
Homes and businesses can also be damaged by the ice. Paralyzing disruptions frequently accompany these storms as roads become treacherous, and power outages can last days or even a week or more. In fact, the aftermath of an ice storm can rival the destruction of a tornado!
That’s a lot to take in, but through it all, one question remains forefront in your mind: What steps can you take to minimize damage and help ensure your family’s warmth and safety if an ice storm threatens the region once again? As your friendly local HVAC service company, we’ve seen our share of winter weather, and we’ve got some practical tips to help you cope.
Be Proactive in the Face of Winter Weather!
To mitigate the damage of a potential ice storm, take action long before the weather even begins. One of the most important steps in preparing your home for winter weather is ensuring that your heating system is ready for whatever the season can throw at it.
Even an inefficient heater can turn a difficult situation into a dangerous one. If your heater goes out entirely in the midst of a frigid storm, your family could face more than just discomfort. How do you prevent it? The best way is to have your furnace regularly inspected by a licensed heating and cooling professional like the ones at Davenport Service Company. Our tune-ups will help make sure that your furnace is in tip-top shape and ready to face whatever winter weather might be coming our way.
Staying Warm and Safe Indoors
It probably goes without saying: When it’s cold outside, your best bet for staying warm is to stay indoors. That also means making sure that your indoors is as safe and warm as possible. Many people augment their home’s furnace with a fireplace or space heaters. This is fine and can be extremely cozy, as long as you use these extra heat sources safely, never leave them unattended, and keep flammable materials far away.
If the power goes out completely and you don’t have a generator, you may find yourself without the benefit of either your home’s HVAC system or space heaters. Until you can get the power back on, you may want to consider “camping out” inside your home. Set up camp in a southern-facing room to make use of the sun’s heat, and stick together so that your body heat helps to warm up the space. You can use a tent and sleeping bags to not only heighten the illusion that you’re camping out, but also to keep everyone cozy and warm as the mercury drops.
Emergency Heating Options
In the event of a prolonged power outage, you may need to turn to some emergency heating options, such as battery-operated space heaters. It’s extremely important to carefully read and follow any instructions or manufacturer's warnings. Some of these heaters are not safe for indoor use. Even those that are should always be accompanied by a carbon monoxide detector to make sure that everyone stays safe.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing
If you’re cold, they’re cold. In this case, we’re talking about your home’s pipes. On a particularly cold night, especially if the power is out, the pipes inside and beneath your house run the risk of freezing. This can be disastrous and expensive. You can help to prevent this unfortunate eventuality by opening up any under-sink cabinets to help keep the air around the pipes warmer and by letting your faucets drip slightly when you’re not using them.
Have an Emergency Kit Ready
You should always have an emergency kit at the ready for any kind of serious emergency that may befall your family. You may have already planned kits for eventualities such as tornadoes or fires. For an ice storm preparedness kit, you should have all the usual emergency kit necessities, including essential maintenance medications, first aid supplies, and so on. You should also have some source of light, such as flashlights, candles, or lanterns. Remember that if the power goes out for an extended period, you may not be able to cook or use the microwave, so be sure that you have plenty of non-perishable food that you can eat without cooking, as well as bottled water.
Entertainment and Comfort
These other tips will help keep your family safe and warm, but if an ice storm or power outage lasts for days or even longer, one of the biggest battles you may find yourself fighting will be against boredom. These days, we all rely on electricity for much of our entertainment and communication with the outside world. You can stock up on power packs that can recharge phones and tablets, even when the power is out, but you should also keep board games, books, puzzles, or other forms of entertainment that don’t require electricity handy.
Check on the Neighbors
It may not be safe or viable to leave the house, but if it is, you might want to check in on elderly neighbors, neighbors with small children, or anyone else in your community who might need additional assistance. If nothing else, it often boosts morale to know that the people around you care enough to check on your well-being.
Ideally, we all hope that an ice storm doesn’t hit. If it does, these tips will help you and your family stay safe and warm. To schedule a furnace tune-up or to help ensure that your home’s HVAC system is ready for whatever the winter might throw our way, call Davenport Service Company at 913-441-2222 today!