What to do after a winter weather event
Necessary recovery actions from a winter storm can vary from snow removal to repairing damage to your home or property.
Follow these steps after a winter storm, making sure to stay safe.
Winter Ready Home Event Checklist
Act on this checklist when severe winter weather is forecast and after the event to recover quickly.
1. Begin removing snow right away.
- Safety first! If it’s warm enough and safe to go outside, fresh snow is easiest to clear. Shovel after each snowfall. Take breaks to avoid overexertion.
- Shovel or use a snowblower to clear the front steps, sidewalks, and driveway of snow and ice.
- Keep a de-icing product on walkways and stairs to prevent slips and falls.
- Clear snow from your home’s furnace exhaust vent.
- Place non-slip mats in your front entryway to prevent slipping.
2) Watch wintry accumulation and clean the roof.
- Monitor your roof’s snow load to ensure it does not exceed maximum capacity and watch for ice dams.
- Clear the snow from your home, shed, and garage. For safe removal that won’t endanger you or damage your roof, hire a snow removal contractor.
3) Use your generator if the power is out.
- Note: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper generator use.
- Portable generator:
- Portable generators should be operated outside in a well-ventilated area and away from windows. Use extreme caution when determining where to operate the generator.
- Portable generators should never be run unattended and should be checked periodically.
- Portable generators should not be fueled while hot.
- Do not let snow accumulate on top of a portable generator.
- Permanent generator:
- Permanent generators are more self-sufficient but should be monitored periodically when in operation.
- Portable generator:
4) Assess your home and document any damage.
- Inside your home
- Watch for signs of snow load damage, such as creaking sounds, a sagging roof, cracks in the ceiling or walls, water stains and doors or windows that no longer open and close correctly.
- Check for flowing water from faucets. If water isn’t flowing and you suspect frozen pipes:
- Shut off the water supply.
- If you have power, open cabinet doors to let heat in to affected area.
- Call a plumber to make repairs for any burst pipes.
- Outside of your home
- If a utility line is damaged or may become damaged, call the utility company. Stay away from any downed power lines.
- Assess downed trees or large limbs that may fall.
- If the tree/limb is located on your driveway or yard, call a tree care professional.
- If the tree/limb is located on a road or sidewalk, call your municipal public works department.
- Create a list and take photos or videos to document any property losses.
5) Contact your insurer ASAP, if your home is damaged.
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Have information ready to provide such as contact info, policy number, type, and date of loss, and a description of the loss and your home inventory, if you have one. You will be assigned a claim number and adjuster who will work with you.
- If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements such as a hotel or temporary housing.
- Keep all receipts and documentation for any services rendered or purchases. Consider creating an electronic file for this information in a cloud storage account so you can access it from anywhere.
- Adjusters may tell homeowners to hire a professional cleaning service or purchase a tarp for your roof. Keep these receipts.
6) Take steps to mitigate further damage.
- Mitigate further damage by hiring a reputable roofer to place a tarp over your damaged roof and/or a restoration service for water removal before mold becomes an issue.
- If it’s safe to do so and recommended by your adjuster, remove any salvageable belongings to a safe, dry space like a storage unit or a family member’s home.