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Home / Guidance / Home Disaster Guides / Winter Ready Home : Before the Event

What to do before a winter weather event

Winter weather can be harsh, keep your family safe and your building prepared as severe weather approaches.

Last-Minute Actions

When severe winter weather is forecast, take these last-minute actions.

Winter Ready Home Event Checklist 

A checklist to make last minute prep before severe winter weather hits and to recover quickly after the event. 


1. Monitor the weather.

  • Stay informed.
    • Find a reliable source for severe weather information. Follow the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center (WPC) on Facebook or X, and your local NWS office. Tune in to local news often when winter weather is forecast.
  • Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone. What to listen for:
    • Winter Storm, Winter Weather, Blizzard, Wind Chill
    • A WATCH means be prepared.
    • A WARNING means take action.
  • Have a weather alert radio that broadcasts emergency alerts from the National Weather Service nearby.
  • Activate your winter plan.
Side View Of African American Guy Using Smartphone Browsing Internet Sitting On Couch At Home. Black Man Texting On Cellphone Or Using New Application On Mobile Phone Indoors


2) Prevent pipes from freezing

  • Set your thermostat to a minimum of 55°F (12.8°C).
  • Open cabinet doors where piping is present, especially when pipes are next to an outside wall.
  • Let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather.
Closeup photograph of dripping tap with shallow depth of field

3) Turn on heat cables before the snow starts to fall if you have an ice dam prevention system.

  • If you have an ice dam prevention system, turn it on before the snow begins to fall.
Roofing heating cable for ice and snow melting. A close-up on a roofing deicing system, ice-melting cable installed above the rain gutter on an asphalt shingled roof.

4) Ensure you have plenty of supplies, such as:

  • Fuel for generators.
  • Snow removal equipment such as shovels or a snow blower.
  • De-icing products for walkways and stairs.
Red and gray shovel for cleaning snow stand in a snowdrift against the background of a modern house

5) Create a home inventory video.

  • Use your cell phone to video each room to show your belongings. Documenting your belongings is easier before a disaster happens.
House object and checking list

Seasonal Home Prep

These steps can help you prepare your family and home before the winter season, no matter where you’re located.

Home Upgrades

We can’t stop the harsh winter weather, but we can prepare and strengthen our homes to defend against it. As your budget allows, consider home upgrades.

Before Winter Event

When severe winter weather is forecast, these are the last-minute things, if time allows, to keep your family safe and your home prepared.

After Winter Event

Follow these steps after a winter storm which can vary, from snow removal to potential damage to your home.