An Ice Storm is a unique weather phenomenon that immediately paralyzes a region, much more so than a major snow storm. An ice storm is so debilitating that you risk your survival and life simply by walking out your front door.
Just prior to nearly any forecast of a major storm, people rush out to the grocery stores, which quickly run out of lots of food and supplies. How does this happen? Its pretty simple really… just think about your own habit of going to the grocery store… you probably go on the same day of the week, right? Lets say you normally go Friday, someone else goes Saturday, yet anther always goes on Tuesday, etc. When a storm is forecast, people disregard their normal schedule and many of them run out to the store during the same day just before the storm. Bingo… the store shelves go empty. The lesson is to NOT have to run out – keep enough at home to begin with. Not only that, but an ice storm will completely prohibit you from running that errand as soon as the fist liquid begins to freeze into ice.
EXPECT more dumb decisions. As it is, a certain percentage of people make dumb decisions, but for some reason just prior and during a storm, there are more of them making poor choices. There will be more accidents (automobile and otherwise). People rushing around, nearly panicked. Out for themselves. It’s really quite amazing to witness. So the best advice is to stay out of their way, and better yet, stay at home!
If you are stuck at home for days with the rest of your family, it will become increasingly likely that you will all get bored or stressed out. Think ahead of time for things to do. Have books to read. Games to play. Projects to accomplish. Be extra nice so as to reduce the possible stress around everyone.
Ice will quickly bring traffic to a crawl or complete halt. Cars may become abandoned and roads completely impassible. Even though you may have a 4×4, keep TIRE CHAINS in your vehicle. A 4-wheel drive will do no good on ice, just like a 2-wheel drive vehicle. Chains however will add biting grip to your tires (even 2-wheel drive vehicles) and may be the difference to get you home. They are easy to get… just ‘size’ them according to the tire model/size that you have. Oh, and once you get them, be sure and familiarize yourself with putting them on one time in your driveway, when the weather is nice, so you know how to do it!
One major danger and risk is that the power often goes out during an ice storm. The weight of the build-up of ice on the power lines and tree branches is enormous (more than you may think). Once a critical point is reached, these lines and limbs will start crashing down. Even worse is that it will be nearly impossible for repair crews to do their job until AFTER an ice storm. This means that you may be without power for a LONG TIME.
During the winter, being without power is an entirely different deal than a summertime power outage. Even a relatively short term power outage in the winter can be deadly. Your home will likely lose its ability to heat. Pipes may freeze. You may freeze. It is crucial to consider an alternative method for keeping warm. Safe portable indoor heaters are available. Of course a wood stove is a no-brainer.
Remember this, whereas during a power outage resulting from a snow storm may allow you to drive to another location which has heat or power, during an ice storm you will NOT be able to safely travel. This makes it all the more important to have a means of keeping warm in your home during a power outage.
Plus, there are all of the other aspects that go with getting along without power…
For your vehicle, keep tire chains, tow strap, salt/sand, shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, a safe gas can, extra gloves, extra hat, blanket, 72-hour kit with food (or at least some power bars, etc.), road flares, LED flashlight, car charger for cell phone, and whatever else you think may be good to have just in case…
A few additional preparedness items for home include LED flashlights, extra batteries, solar battery charger, portable battery powered AM/FM Shortwave radio, a weather radio, a safe indoor cooking stove, enough food, some stored water in case municipal tap water pumps go dead, generator, extra fuel in safe gas cans, car charger for your cell phone, and most important of all… enough hot chocolate!
If you have large trees or limbs over or near your home or roof, be very aware of this. A falling tree can easily slice into a house and kill you. Consider trimming large limbs that may be a risk. At the very least, I would not sleep or spend much time in a room underneath such a danger zone.
Conserve the power on your cell phone. Shut it off except for when you are going to use it. Cell towers are often repaired well before the power comes back on, so bear that in mind.
If you are ‘out’ and you hear a forecast of icing, do your best to get where you are going to go, BEFORE the event. Your ears should perk up when you hear the word, ICE.