Angie's List: Tips for surviving a snowstorm

Posted at 10:43 AM, Feb 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-04 16:53:33-05

Despite the hyped warnings and alerts from local media, that winter storm has indeed dumped inches, and feet, of snow on your house.

Hopefully, you've prepared your family, pets and car for the winter weather beforehand.

But if you do get snowbound, don't panic. Here's how to handle some cold-weather emergencies that can hobble most households.

If you're snowed in:
* If your lock freezes up, use a lighter or match to heat the key. You can also use a lock de-icer.
* To keep your doors from freezing shut, your best bet is to keep your car in a garage. If you don’t have a garage, apply a coat of petroleum jelly to the door's hinges and latches, or place a plastic trash bag between the door or window glass and the frame. Do not throw hot water on the car. It will freeze.
* If no water is available, you can melt snow in an emergency. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs.
* If you’re snowed in and can’t get out of your driveway, make some calls to snow removal companies. While this is a busy time, a provider may be able to squeeze you in.
* Check with your neighbors to see if there is a snow blower you can borrow.
* Canceled classes mean students are home from school. They might be interested in making some extra money shoveling your driveway and walkways.

If your power goes out:
* Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened freezer should keep food frozen up to 48 hours. Food should remain cold in an unopened refrigerator for 24 hours. If power is out for a long period of time, use snowdrifts as a makeshift freezer for food.
* Unplug all equipment that will automatically turn on when power is restored or that may become damaged due to voltage irregularities.
* Use flashlights for emergency lighting. Do not use candles.
* Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. The carbon monoxide in enclosed spaces can be deadly.

Other common winter emergencies:
* If your furnace goes out … Call your service provider. Use an alternative heat source such as a wood stove or fireplace in the meantime. Do not use your stove or oven as a source of heat. This increases your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
* If your pipes freeze … Soak towels in hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipe. Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. Turn on faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within pipes will prevent freezing. Monitor your faucets for reduced water flow.
* If your pipes burst … Shut off the main valve and call a plumber.

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