Are You Ready for Winter?

The bliss and tranquility that often accompanies the proverbial “Winter Wonderland” could turn chaotic if you don’t follow the proper cold weather safety precautions. Do you know what to do if you get stranded in your car? What can you do to prevent ice storm damage? Here are some tips for preparing for and dealing with winter storm.

Before the storm:

  • Know the winter terminology that may appear across the bottom of your television screen or on the local radio station.
    • Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter weather may affect the surrounding area.
    • Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter weather conditions are on the way. Take cover and be prepared.
    • Blizzard Warning: Blinding snow and dangerous wind chills are expected for several hours. Sustained winds of 35 mph are expected to sweep the area. A traveler’s advisory is issued if driving conditions are expected to be dangerous or slow moving.
  • Winterize your car long before the first snowfall hits. Winter weather is unpredictable and may surprise you early in the season. Prepare or purchase a disaster kit for your car or truck
  • Winterize your trees and bushes by trimming long branches. The ice and wet snow that accumulates on branches can cause damage to your home, car or neighbors.
  • Salt and shovel walkways often.
  • Drain your pipes if you go on vacation or experience a power outage to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
  • Make certain that each family member has a warm winter coat, gloves or mittens, hat or scarf and water-resistant boots.
  • Keep your gas tank full in the winter months to protect your fuel line from freezing.

During the storm:

Be patient. Most deaths that occur during a winter storm are not caused directly by the storm, The three leading causes of winter storm related deaths are:

  • Traffic accidents: Slow down and leave ample space between your car and other drivers.
  • Heart attacks from shoveling snow: Consider hiring a professional snow removal service.
  • Exposure to cold: Wearing hats and boots will help prevent hypothermia.

After the storm:

  • Once the storm conditions subside, assess your home and property for ice and storm damage.
  • Contact our office as soon as possible if you need to file a claim. After business hours, contact ERIE’s Extended Hours Claims Service at (800) 367-3743.
  • Dry any wet building materials or contents promptly to avoid mold, mildew or further damage. These include materials and items such as carpeting, furniture, insulation and drywall.
  • If you have access to a camera or video camcorder, document your losses. This will help speed up the claims process. Compile a list of damaged items.
  • Hold off on permanent repairs until your ERIE adjuster approves your reimbursement.
  • Keep all receipts related to repairs and temporary housing.
  • Carefully brush the heavy accumulation of snow off your roof.
  • Keep gutters clear, if possible, and shovel snow away from downspouts, basement window wells and stairwells.
  • Beware of high water runoff and possible sewer problems as the snow melts.
  • To prevent flooding, be sure your street storm sewer is clear of snow, ice and debris.
  • Check your sump pump periodically to ensure that it is handling the amount of water from thawing snow. Auxiliary pumps are available at home centers. Wet vacs, fans and humidifiers can also help to keep the area dry if a sump pump fails.

When all is said and done, enjoy the Winter Wonderland. But remember to be safe and that Erie Insurance and our agency are here to help.

ERIE® insurance services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York). Not all companies are licensed or operate in all states. Not all products are offered in all states. Go to for company licensure and territory information.

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The information in this post is general in nature, and geared toward insurance conditions in Western New York.  As always, you should speak with an insurance adviser to determine your specific insurance needs.

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