The DomiDocs Guide to Blizzard Preparedness

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin

Changes of season are no different than most scenarios in life where being prepared is key. And no matter how much we love or hate winter, it’s coming one way or another so it’s best to get ready for the unknown, especially as a homeowner when a winter blizzard can wreak havoc on your home and day-to-day activities.


Are you ready for this?

The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as: “Blowing and/or falling snow with winds of at least 35 mph, reducing visibilities to a quarter of a mile or less for at least three hours. Winds lofting the current snowpack and reducing visibilities without any falling snow is called a ground blizzard.” These severe snowstorms can produce low temperatures, high winds, low visibility, snow, ice, freezing and/or flooding. advises that blizzards can:

  • last from a few hours to several days

  • cause buildings to collapse

  • cut off communication, electricity, and heat

  • create greater risk for children, older adults, health-compromised individuals, and pets

  • power lines and/or trees may come down

  • rural homes could be isolated for days

According to an insurance brokerage company,

in 2021 alone, winter storms across America were

responsible for a record $15 billion in insured losses.

Blizzard stats.

According to a research study conducted by Ball State University, IN, from 1960–1994, the US experienced an average of 9 blizzards per year, however, since 1995, the average has almost doubled to 19 blizzard events annually. The blizzard alleys of the Great Plains and Upper Midwest states are the most prone to winter storms, with Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota receiving the bulk of the disturbances. In some states such as Iowa, there’s even a statewide Winter Weather Awareness Day held each November.

Besides storm conditions themselves, blizzards can create a higher risk for:

  • carbon monoxide poisoning, from non-electrical fuel-burning appliances such as oil-burning furnaces, propane heaters, wood-burning fireplaces; never attempt to heat your home by using a gas oven/stovetop
  • car accidents, due to icy/whiteout conditions
  • frostbite: where signs may include numbness, firm/waxy skin, or greyish-white/yellow skin
  • heart attacks, due to overexertion from shoveling seemingly endless amounts of snow
  • hypothermia: where signs may include confusion, drowsiness, exhaustion, fumbling hands, memory loss, or slurred speech


Blizzard categories defined.

As per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is no widely used scale when it comes to classifying snowstorms, however, the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS) is commonly used to classify blizzards in the Northeast, while recognizing the impact such a storm can have on the rest of the country including economic and transportation concerns. NESIS calculates a score using a combination of the amount of snow, the size of the area affected by the storm, and the population living in the storm path. The resulting score is categorized into five groups:

Category NESIS Value Description Notable Northeast Blizzard Occurrences by Year
2.37 in 2000
3.99 in 2009
5.93 in 1966
8.77 in 1960
13.2 in 1993


One of the largest blizzards recorded was the Cleveland Superbomb in January of 1978, which comprised blizzard conditions across an area the size of Montana and Texas combined (approximately 407,260 square miles).


Is there a blizzard season? states that while blizzards are most commonly experienced in December and January, documentation from 1959–2014 showed at least one blizzard each month throughout the year, excluding July through September.


How DomiDocs can help you navigate through a storm.

The keys to helping you weather any natural disaster are always going to be the same: knowledge and organization. It basically comes down to homeowner responsibility and doing your due diligence to protect both your family and your home before a disaster strikes. Use the secure, award-winning DomiDocs homeowner platform to:

  • upload a detailed home inventory list itemizing your home’s contents including receipts, photos, and videos of your home’s current condition

  • store and catalog your proprietary household paperwork using the Insurance Document Bundle feature where your insurance policies are listed to show the company, coverage, cost, and start- and end-date of each, displayed with a calendar timeline for quick reference when needed. Besides for your own use, you can share with your insurance agent at the touch of a button if need to file an insurance claim

  • work your way through our comprehensive DomiDocs New Homeowner Guide offering best use instructions to help prevent homeowner claims


The basics of blizzard preparedness.

Before a blizzard, take the time to:
Determine your personal blizzard risk.
You’re probably aware of possible winter conditions that may occur, but do you know if you live in an area prone to more than your fair share of blizzards? Check with local authorities so you know what may be coming your way in winter.
Prep your home for a blizzard.
  • The very basics of prepping your home for a winter storm include:

    • ensuring you have an adequate supply of heating fuel/coal/firewood on-hand
    • insulating your door and windows with caulking, weatherstripping and/or the use of storm windows
    • wrapping any exposed pipes with tape insulation
    • servicing your snow removal equipment
    • testing/installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, with battery backups
    • having an adequate supply of salt or de-icer on hand
    • purchasing a back-up generator and ensuring you follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions for usage
    • if you have a rural property with livestock, ensure there's adequate shelter/food/non-frozen water available, as well as access to higher ground in the case of flooding; consider installing snow fences to help keep storms at bay
Sign up for your area’s weather alert system.

Besides your local alert systems, also be sure to pay attention to alerts issued by NOAA and the Emergency Alert System

Know the signs of a blizzard.
  • Increase in wind
  • Decrease in temperature
  • Know your winter weather definitions:

    - Winter Weather Advisory: issued to advise of snow/freezing rain/sleet that could lead to life-threatening scenarios if caution is not used

  - Winter Storm Watch: typically issued 12–48 hours prior to a storm; means heavy snow/freezing rain/sleet is possible

   - Winter Storm Warning: typically issued 12–24 hours beforehand; means heavy snow/freezing rain/sleet is imminent or already occurring, and you need to seek shelter immediately

    - Wind Chill Temperature: is the temperature that animals and humans feel  on exposed skin when they're outside in cold weather. When the wind increases, it carries away body heat at a faster rate, which makes the temperature feel much colder than it actually is

Develop an evacuation plan.

Every member of your family needs to know what your homeowner evacuation plan is. Where will you go? How will you get there? What optional evacuation routes will you have if your initial choice is blocked? Where will you stay? Knowing these basics in advance can help stem panic during an actual natural disaster situation. Have a to-go bag in place with all the supplies you’ll need, including items for your pets. If you’ll need assistance in traveling, you’ll need to confirm with someone in advance. And be sure to follow any evacuation orders that have been issued. As a family, discuss how you can help your neighbors during a natural disaster by checking in or helping them evacuate as well.

Winterize your vehicles.
  • Ensure you’ve got good winter tires with adequate tread; in heavy snow regions, consider using studded snow tires and/or carrying chains
  • Have your mechanic check your:
    • antifreeze
    • battery
    • brakes
    • defroster
    • exhaust system
    • hazard lights
    • headlights
    • heater
    • ignition system
    • oil
    • signal lights
    • thermostat
    • windshield wipers/washer fluid
Assemble an emergency kit for your car.

Be sure to always keep a full tank of gas during the winter season.

A winter emergency kit for your car should include:

  • blankets
  • bottled water
  • flashlight
  • jumper cables
  • matches in a waterproof container
  • non-perishable snacks
  • red bandana-style cloth to tie to your antenna should your need assistance
  • sand/cat litter to help gain traction
  • warm clothes
  • windshield scraper/broom
Assemble disaster supplies for your family members and your pets.

The American Red Cross recommends gathering 2 emergency supply kits:

  1. A Go-Kit: with a 3-day supply of items you can carry with you, including chargers for your devices (cell phone, wheelchair, CPAP, etc.) and backup batteries; as well as non-perishable food, water, and medications. Cash is also important to have on hand as ATMs may not be working/accessible. 
  2. A Stay-at-Home Kit: with a 2-week supply of the above items.

NOAA recommends adding the following to round out your emergency disaster supply kits, where applicable:

  • masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer
  • non-prescription medicine such as antacids, anti-diarrhea, and pain relievers
  • contact lens solution/prescription eyeglasses
  • baby bottles, formula, wipes, diapers, and diaper rash cream
  • feminine hygiene supplies
  • sleeping bags/blankets
  • a change of clothing for each family member, including sensible footwear
  • fire extinguisher
  • matches in a fireproof container
  • mess kit with plates, utensils, cups, and paper towels
  • activities for kids like puzzles, games, or books
Review/update your homeowner insurance policy.

It’s estimated that 40% of Americans can’t find an important household document when needed, so the first step is to upload your vital household documents to our user-friendly digital platform, so there’s easy access 24/7/365. Secondly, reassess your homeowner policy to ensure you have the best coverage to fit your needs. Compare the cost and coverage that you have in place, to what else is available from your current insurer and other companies. If there have been any major additions to your home and/or contents in the last year, it’s time to review your homeowner insurance policy to ensure it’ll cover your new additions.

  • Homeowner insurance doesn’t cover flooding resulting from accumulated snow/blizzards, so you’ll need to purchase a separate policy for it; note that there’s a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance takes effect
  • If you're struggling to afford energy-related heating costs, home repairs, or weatherization, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may be able to help.
Make your home disaster-resistant.
Depending on where you live across America, insurance companies may reward your efforts in making your home disaster-resistant by offering discounted homeowner insurance premiums. Strengthen structural areas of your home and upgraded plumbing systems can lessen the risk of water damage from an older broken pipe.
Have supplies on hand to make emergency repairs.

Such supplies can include plastic sheeting, tarps, sandbags, and/or plywood, plus the necessary tools to apply these to your home like a staple gun and/or duct tape.

Before an earthquake, consider adding these to your emergency repair toolbox:

  • gloves
  • an ax
  • a broom
  • a shovel
  • rope
Complete a written disaster plan.

Now that you’ve got everything in place, there’s no better way to solidify it than by making a written plan, which should include regularly practicing your escape route, and maintaining your disaster prep plan supplies by replacing expired items. Ensure your plan includes a contact list, with at least one contact who lives outside the impacted area; share your disaster plan with family and friends. Register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website so friends and family will know you are okay.

Take the time to emergency life-saving skills.

The American Red Cross recommends that adults and kids around the age of nine learn first aid and CPR skills., the American Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following:

When a blizzard is happening:
Avoid driving whenever possible.
If you become trapped inside a vehicle, stay inside the vehicle. Attach the red cloth/bandana to your antenna to signal you need help. Only turn on your car engine for 10 minutes every hour, while using the heater/turning on the overhead light, and ensuring there’s no blockage to your exhaust. Huddle together for warmth, do light exercises, drink fluids, and avoid overexertion.
If you must go outside for whatever reason, wear layers of warm clothing; pay attention to signs of hypothermia and/or frostbite. Cover your mouth when outdoors to avoid lung damage; talk minimally and don't take deep breaths. Stay dry to prevent loss of body heat.
Double-check your emergency supplies including bottled water, plus battery-operated flashlights and a radio.
Monitor local news reports and emergency alerts.
If you need help, contact your local Red Cross for emergency shelter information.
Conserve your home’s fuel by lowering the thermostat to 55° F at night, and 65° F during the day.

The Problem with Insurance Companies

When you’re in the midst of dealing with a natural disaster, there’s no doubt you’ll also be dealing with your insurance company. DomiDocs CEO and Founder, William McKenna, advises to never accept your insurance company’s first settlement offer as chances are it’ll be a low-ball offer they’re just hoping you’ll take without question. Many attorneys agree that the initial offer by an insurance company should immediately be rejected. What should you do? Access your personal profile on the DomiDocs home management platform, and submit your documented receipts, photos, and videos to your insurance adjuster with just one click. Take the time to factor in missed wages, medical bills (current and future), vehicle repairs, and any other losses that occurred before accepting any settlement offers.

Never accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer: McKenna himself was initially offered a $13,500 settlement offer for damages sustained to his home’s roof by a sudden, unexpected microburst. By providing his documentation already stored in the DomiDocs Homeowner Platform, McKenna’s settlement was increased to $201,000, proving true the immeasurable value of DomiDocs.

DomiDocs has your back! Whether it’s avalanche preparedness, How To File an Insurance Claim, or mental health tips in The DomiDocs Guide: What to Do After a Hurricane Hits, we’re here for every step of your homeowner journey.

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