While heavy snows can disrupt travel plans, cause damage to structures and trees, and puts anyone caught out in a snowstorm in a life-threatening situation, it can however be used to your advantage in some cases.
Some assumptions have been made and one is that you would have ample supplies on hand so you would not have to leave your home. It is also assumed you would lose electricity and thus your heating source at some point. It is also assumed a crisis will be created because of the heavy snows. A crisis that shuts the community down meaning roads will not be plowed and many services disrupted or stopped completely.
1.) Clean Snow Is a Good Source of Drinking Water
You should always be in a position to take advantage of any additional water sources, regardless of your current supply. This means that part of your preparations should include extra containers that can be used to store water.
Gather and melt the snow in clean containers. In most cases, unless contamination is obvious melted snow would not have to be purified before consuming. Avoid eating snow or drinking cold water. Allow the water to warm as much as possibly before drinking, while protecting the water from contamination.
Do not melt icicles hanging from the roofline for drinking water unless you filter and purify the melted water first. The roof and guttering system that the melted snow has passed over will have contaminates that of course will be present in the ice.
Snow can be melted to flush toilets, if you are on a septic system and in even some cases used if on a sewer system if the system is still operational. Melted snow can be used for cooking, bathing and for laundry. If your water service is disrupted, use melted snow to conserve your emergency supply.
You have to be careful when using snow as a means of keeping foods cold enough to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Any food items buried in the snow to chill should be in a sealed container, and always placed where the snow is shaded.
Even through the air, temperature is below freezing, radiant heat can warm up surfaces swiftly. This is why roadways especially ones constructed using asphalt will melt snow coverings even when not treated.
You have to monitor the foods for temperature changes and to make sure animals are not snooping around. Frozen foods can and will thaw when exposed to sunlight even if the air temperature is below freezing, so use caution.
Remember warm always conducts to cold so if placing warm items in the snow, the snow will absorb the heat and begin to melt so you may have to move the items once the temperature of the items stabilizes or pack more snow around the items.
At a certain point both the food items and the snow will be the same temperature, so if the snow is kept shaded and the items covered well with snow, then in theory a safe holding temperature that inhibits bacteria growth can be maintained.
While the temperature of ice is 32 degrees, introducing warmer items will cause the heat to conduct to the cold causing the ice to melt. The same would apply to snow so close monitoring is essential.
Any perishable foods such as fresh meat held above 40ᵒ F for longer than two hours would be considered unsafe to eat.
This method is provided for informational purposes only, and is not typically recommended as a means of chilling foods or maintaining a safe temperature.
On average, the R-rating for snow is R-1, which is the same as wood chips or bales of straw, which is R-1.5. Plain wood is rated at R-0.7 while a brick has even less insulating quality than wood (Scott, 2011).
Snow can be used to cover perennials plants to help prevent the moisture in the pants from freezing and destroying the plant. Snow can be used to insulate doghouses, tool sheds, and garage doors and in some cases, used to insulate entrance doors to the home, doors such as sliding glass doors that would not be used as an exit/entrance.
Pile snow along the foundation of any structure to help keep the cold winds out and to help stabilize the temperature inside the structure, when you have lost your heating source.
As stated earlier warm conducts to cold and the conduction of heat will be slowed as the inside air stabilizes, thus the conduction of warm to cold will slow. While it will not be cozy inside it will be 15 to 20 degrees warmer inside the structure than outside, and it will take little heat to keep the inside warm if snow is piled up outside the structure.
Many times hay bales are used along the bottom of mobile homes to keep cold winds from flowing underneath, so in the absence of bales of straw you can use snow instead.
Snow cover allows you to see footprints and tire tracks, and thus can help you keep track of comings and goings of others. If you do not shovel your driveway or sidewalk during a crisis, you will be alerted when you see footprints or vehicle tracks not of your own making. It is important that you keep track of your own footprints and of others in the home so you can identify tracks that do not belong there.
Monitor the footprints under all windows, around tool sheds, garages and anywhere around your home that would allow anyone entrance. Passive monitoring is not a preventive measure of course, but tracks will alert you to the fact someone is snooping around, and may allow you to prepare for a possible intrusion in the future.
5.) Tracking Game for Food
If you have a pair of snowshoes or skies, you can get around in deep snow to hunt for fresh meat. Game tracks can be spotted easily right after a snow. A toboggan or even a saucer type sled can be pulled behind you and used to bring the game back home. If you are in a position to hunt during a crisis, having snow on the ground may make it easier in some cases if you are prepared for it by having snowshoes, sleds and/or cross-country skies.
Scott, C. (2011). Retrieved 2014, from http://www.sciences360.com/index.php/the-insulation-properties-of-snow-4222/