How to Stay Safe When Ice Storms Strike

Snowstorms do hit the mid-Atlantic, but a more common pest is the ice storm.  These unwanted visitors leave us, and our vehicles, slipping and sliding and then top their destruction off with power outages.  Here are some tips to remember if you get caught in the storm.

Ice Storm Facts

Ice storms occur when rain hits a cold surface and freezes on contact.  Ice accumulates on the ground, trees, cars and other objects, causing dangerous conditions.  Ice can increase the weight of tree branches by 30 times, which often snap, taking down power lines or leaving behind obstacles on roads, sidewalks and other travel areas.  The ice also turns pavement into sheets of ice which can cause serious accidents. 

Where Ice Storms Occur

The MIdwest and Northeast are prime areas for freezing rain.  An average of 12 to 15 hours of freezing rain occurs annually in the Midwest.  Most ice storms in the U.S. happen during the months of December and January.

The Dangers of Ice Storms

Driving during an ice storm is treacherous.  Vehicles can skid out of control, leading to devastating car crashes.  People also die from hypothermia if they are exposed to the cold for a long period of time. Frostbite from the cold temperatures and wind chill can damage body tissue.  Ice storms also greatly impact urban transportation systems and utilities. 

Traveling During an Ice Storm

If you are caught on the road during an ice storm stay away from downed power lines, as well as tree branches and debris. They may be hiding a fallen power line.

Keep the owner’s manual and an emergency kit in your vehicle.. Don’t forget seasonal gear too, like blankets, a hat and gloves, a shovel, ice scraper, snowbrush, and kitty litter. 

Surviving a Power Outage

When the power goes out, dress in warm layers. Close doors to unused rooms and keep the heat in one central area.  Put towels under the doors of the room you are staying in to keep heat from escaping.  Unplug all of your electronics.  Set your faucets to drip to keep pipes from freezing.  Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed. Stock up on water and non-perishable food. Store food in a container outside to keep it cold.

Preventing Home Damage

There are ways to prevent an ice storm from damaging your home. 

Stop Ice Dams. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the edge of a roof and keeps water from melting snow from draining off. The backup can cause water to leak into your home and damage the ceiling and walls. Melt the ice dam with hot water or install a heat cable.  A professional can safely remove the obstacle with a shovel.

Keep Gutters Clear.  Get rid of debris that could clog up your gutter. Make sure the water from melting snow and ice is deposited at least 10 feet away from the foundation.

Prep Your Driveway.  Clean it every quarter or so. Power washing is a standard method. Seal your driveway every two to five years to extend its life.  Seal driveway cracks before winter arrives. Keep your driveway clear of snow and ice.  Use calcium-based ice melts to prevent damage.

Prepare Pipes.  Keep pipes warm to prevent them from freezing, breaking and flooding your home.  Pipes in bathrooms, laundry rooms near garages, and exterior walls are most vulnerable.. When it’s very cold out, let the water drip from the faucet to prevent a frozen pipe.  

Let Us Clean Your Home Exterior

When the harsh winter months are over, let the professionals at Peak Power Wash give your home exterior a good scrubbing.   We use a technique called “soft wash”, which uses a much lower amount of pressure and reduces potential harm to surfaces.  Contact us at 443-686-WASH or visit our website to request a free estimate.

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Our home power washing and home pressure washing service area includes, but is not limited to: Westminster, Finksburg, Hampstead, Sykesville, Eldersburg, Manchester, New Windsor, Mt Airy, Taneytown, and Woodbine in Carroll County. Ellicott City, Clarksville, Columbia, and Elkridge in Howard County. Reisterstown and Upperco in Baltimore County. New Market, Walkersville, Thurmont, Emmittsburg in Frederick County. Hagerstown, Boonsboro, Smithsburg in Washington County. Other areas include Spring Grove, Gettysburg, Littlestown, Waynesboro, Chambersburg, and Hanover Pennsylvania.