Preparing for a Wisconsin Ice Storm

Just when you think Winter is winding down, Mother Nature likes to throw in some last minute events to keep us on our toes.  Freezing rain can certainly be beautiful but should not be overlooked as far as preparedness goes.  An ounce of prevention goes a long way with ice storms.

Here are a couple tips if you haven’t already started planning for the freezing rain.


  • With Ice Storms comes school closings, so plan accordingly.
  • With school closings comes kids staying at home, and ice storms can hinder satellite reception and cable lines affecting the internet and everything kids have come to rely on.
  • If you have to go to work, give yourself plenty of time so you can drive slower.



  • Grab some extra salt bags from the local hardware store.  Salting your sidewalks before and during the storm will help prevent the ice from building-up on the concrete.  Slips and falls are a leading cause of injury in winter.
  • As with any storm heading our way, make sure you always have a battery-powered radio, freshly charged flashlights, cell phones and back-up batteries.  Ice storms are notorious for downing power lines and those in rural areas could  have longer power outages.
  • Locate extra blankets in case you lose your heat source.
  • If the power goes off, turn off all major electrical appliances and keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.



  • Remember that when it rains in winter, the ground is frozen or saturated to the point that it cannot absorb the water, and flooding can occur sporadically.  Look out for low lying areas that may funnel water into your home.  Snow banks act as dams and can divert the water into basement doors, basement windows or low lying exterior walls.  Remove any snow from around any house penetrations and make sure there is the ability for water to drain away from the home.
  • In winter, gutters may be full of snow or ice (especially those that haven’t been cleaned out in fall), so water from the rain will not drain properly off the roof.  Be cognizant where the rain may fall and what is under those area such as entrances, cars, and doors/windows.
  • If you are worried about ice dams forming on critical areas of your home, put some calcium chloride in some old socks and line your gutters with a couple of them.  The ice will have a tough time forming in those areas, preventing any damage that happens from large icicles or ice damming.
  • Unplug any outdoor christmas lights that you haven’t taken down yet.  Rain can get into the receptacles and then freeze, possibly shorting out your circuits.
  • Spray the bottom gasket of your garage doors with a lubricant to aid in preventing them from freezing to the concrete.  You can also do this to the weatherstripping on doors that are unprotected from overhangs or susceptible to water infiltration.  This also helps maintain an air-tight seal.



  • Fill your car with gasoline.
  • Plug your car in, but make sure the outlet is protected.  Many car owners do not realize that their make an model may have a plug in the front of their car.  Common for diesels but also popular on some gasoline models.
  • Prevent your wipers from sticking to the window by soaking a cloth with full-strength rubbing alcohol and wipe each blade.
  • You could also wipe your window with a couple household items to prevent frost/ice buildup.  Mix 3 to 1 ratio of vinegar and water – spray on windows the night before.  You could rub half of an onion, or better yet use some old bath mats, carpet remnants or even old car mats to cover them from the harsh elements.
  • Frozen locks on the car?  Use a straw to blow into the lock and that should heat it enough to unfreeze the mechanism.  You could also heat your key with a lighter, but be careful not to melt the plastic around the key, or even burn yourself.
  • Using rubbing alcohol or upholstery lubricant on the weatherstripping of car doors will help in preventing the doors from freezing shut.

This storm could be a hit or miss for some of us, but it is always better to be prepared than dealing with the damage after the fact.


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