How to prepare for winter storm and heavy snow in southwestern Illinois, St. Louis

Derik Holtmann/

The metro-east could be hit by 4 to 9 inches of snow Tuesday and Wednesday, and low temperatures between 27 and 32 degrees could cause additional issues.

Frozen pipes, snow-covered driveways and loss of power are among the possible hazards caused by the expected winter storm, and taking precautions ahead of time might help you navigate the unfortunate scenarios.

Here’s how to prepare for the severe weather, including what items to have at home, how to protect against frozen pipes and shoveling safety tips.

What to have on-hand in a winter storm

The National Weather Service recommends keeping these items at home or at your office to prepare for winter storms:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Battery-powered weather radio to receive emergency information

  • Water

  • Food requiring no refrigeration or cooking, such as granola bars, dried fruit or nuts

  • Extra prescription medicine

  • Baby items such as diapers and formula, if applicable

  • First-aid supplies

  • Heating fuel

  • Emergency heat source such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater. It’s important these items are properly ventilated to avoid a fire

  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm

  • Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets

  • Carbon monoxide detector

Make sure you have the phone number to your utility company, extra blankets, sleeping bags and warm coats, as well as a cell phone and portable charger if possible.

Snow appears headed for southwestern Illinois. When will it hit and how much will fall?

How to protect your home from extreme cold

It’s important to never use a generator, camp stove, grill or any gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices in your home, basement, garage or any partially enclosed area, the American Red Cross advises.

These devices should be kept outside away from any doors, windows or vents that could allow carbon monoxide to enter your home.

One issue that can result from extreme cold is frozen pipes. There are several steps you can take to protect your pipes from freezing, including insulation, sealing any leaks and keeping your thermostat set to the same temperature all day and night.

Letting the water drip can also be helpful, State Farm says. A trickle of hot and cold water could help prevent your pipes freezing, and you should let warm water drip overnight when temperatures are low.

Opening cabinet doors allows heat to flow to any uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

If you will be away from home during cold weather, make sure the battery in your thermostat is functioning and set it to no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Ask a neighbor or friend to check in to make sure your home is warm enough if you can.

State Farm also recommends people shut off and drain their water system, but be aware this may deactivate your fire protection sprinkler system if you have one.

Snow shoveling safety

The National Weather Service St. Louis recommends those shoveling snow to dress warmly and stay hydrated, as the intense physical activity can be hazardous.

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The American Heart Association advises people to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling snow, as alcohol may make people underestimate the cold’s effect on their body.

Another best practice is to use a small shovel to avoid overexertion and push the snow when you can. Taking frequent rest breaks and checking in with how your body feels is also important.