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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Protecting Your Home from a Blizzard in Western New York

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

Green pine trees during the day in the snow. Trees can pose a major risk to your home after a blizzard.

In Western New York, we’re no strangers to sudden heavy snowfall. People still speak with equal parts nostalgia and horror about the “Blizzard of ’77” and “Snowvember,” storm events that reminded us just how unforgiving the weather here can be.

The severity of those storms was, to a great degree, unexpected. That’s why it’s vital that you’re prepared for anything once the temperatures begin to dip. You never know when the next nicknameable storm event is coming here in WNY.

How should you react before, during and after a blizzard? We’ll walk you through the basics.

Before the Storm

The key to preparing yourself for a storm is to anticipate. What supplies might you need to not only wait on the storm, but to stay safe, secure and comfortable for a few days afterwards? What might you need to clear snow, stay warm and stay entertained?

Essentials like bottled water, canned foods, instant coffee and pre-packaged snacks are a must, because they can be prepared and eaten without the use of electricity. Extra batteries and flashlights are also smart to have on hand. If anyone in your household takes medication, you should also stock up on that. Stocking up on hygienic products like toilet paper also isn’t a bad idea, though you should be considerate and avoid hoarding more than you need.

Storm prep is also a good time to break out the board games and books you’ve been meaning to get to all those years. Even if sitting around and doing a puzzle isn’t your cup of tea, it’s superior to sitting around and doing nothing while you wait for the power to kick back on.

During the Snowstorm

When the snow finally starts, there’s not much you can do aside from kick back and relax. Avoid going outside unless you absolutely have to. That goes double for driving, no matter how much you pride yourself on your ability to navigate the snow. Just because you think you’re invincible behind the wheel doesn’t mean that accidents can’t happen.

If you absolutely do have to go out, make sure you dress for the occasion. Experts recommend three layers of clothing: one to absorb sweat, one to provide insulation, and one to keep out the cold.

After the Snowstorm

We’re going to assume you know that you should shovel your walkways and sidewalks and focus on what we know best: potential storm damage after a blizzard.

After a serious snowfall, it’s important to make sure that there isn’t too much weight on your roof. Heavy snow can lead to roof issues if not taken care of. As a rule of thumb, it will take about four feet of snow to cause significant stress to your roof. While it’s unlikely that you’ll see that kind of buildup after a single storm, a few storms in quick succession can absolutely lead to this kind of buildup, especially if there’s an ice dam forming in your gutters.

If you living in a single story home, you may be able to reach your roof with a snow rake, which can be purchased ahead of time at a hardware store, and clear snow yourself. If the snow is inaccessible from the ground level, however, it may be time to call in a professional.

You should also do a quick circuit around your house and make sure that snow is not blocking any of your furnace vents. Blocked furnace vents aren’t just inefficient – they can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide in your home, which can have deadly consequences.

Finally, you should look for any exterior risks to your home stemming from the snowfall. The most obvious risk comes from nearby trees. Tree branches that are overloaded with snow are liable to break or fall, and if one falls onto your house, you could be looking at minor or major structural damage. And the last thing you need in the dead of winter is a hole in your roof.

Fortunately, clearing trees of snow isn’t too hard. Just take a broom or long pole and try to knock the snow off as best you can. You may have to wait a bit for ice to melt, and we wouldn’t recommend poking around a branch that’s already dangerously detached, but for the most part, you should be able to handle your trees on your own.

If you’ve done everything you can and you still ended up with storm damage after a blizzard, we can help. Call SERVPRO of The Southtowns today at 716-646-6684.

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