The first major storm of 2014 didn’t wait long to interrupt the lives of an estimated 100 million in states all across the country. Some in the Midwest began feeling the punch of Hercules on January 1st, and blizzard conditions in the Northeast continue through Friday.

Major winter storms should be taken seriously and both home and businesses owners should take precautions to make sure they stay safe and minimize losses. The Weather Channel has provided a great report that details how Hercules is affecting various states:

Winter Storm Hercules is on the move from the Midwest into the Northeast," said meteorologist Chris Dolce. "The Northeast I-95 corridor will feel the worst impacts from Hercules Thursday evening into Friday morning. Gusty winds will combine with the snow to produce poor visibility and dangerous travel conditions. Localized blizzard conditions are possible on Long Island and in coastal parts of southeast Massachusetts.

New York has declared a state of emergency and closed certain highways and universities, including NYU until January 6th. It has also been reported that more than 2,000 flights have been canceled with more than 4,000 flights delayed during this busy travel time.

Growing up in Michigan, it was essential that we had a pantry stocked with provisions, vehicles filled with fuel, and lots of dry fire wood for big winter storms. What many of us in the warmer climates don’t realize is how the snow, cold temperatures, and ice can cause severe property damage. With bad winter weather, power outages are common. For homeowners this can mean frozen pipes, water damage, power fluctuations, roof damage, ice and weight of snow damage, food spoilage losses and more. Business owners can experience all of the above and potentially have a loss of business income and extra-expense claims.

Property damage as a result of a winter storm is likely not a matter of if, but when. Those who have been impacted by this bad winter weather storm need to make sure they stay safe and warm. (Bring those outside animals indoors)

If the storm has caused property damage, be sure to promptly notify your insurance company and if you have any questions about how the insurance company is handling your claim, you can post your comments below or send in your emails.