ABOUT WINTER STORMS
The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the "Deceptive Killers" because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. People are injured or killed in traffic accidents on icy roads, or suffer from hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to the cold. Another major danger associated with winter storms is their ability to knock out heat, power and communications, sometimes for days at a time. On this page you will find information about how to prepare for winter weather before it strikes.
KNOW YOUR WINTER STORM TERMS
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A WINTER STORM EMERGENCY
- Get an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions for you and your family to live on for a minimum of three days.
- Check and update your family's emergency supply kit before winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:
- Rock salt to melt ice on walkways.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you and your family warm.
- Make an emergency plan for you and your family.
- Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
- If you have no heat, close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels or rags in the cracks under doors and cover windows at night.
- Cover pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic. Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts. If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags.
- Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
- Use extreme caution when using alternative heating sources. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects. Also, when using kerosene heaters be sure to maintain ventilation to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. See Winter Heating Safety Tips for more information.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wear gloves (or mittens) and a hat to help prevent loss of body heat.
If You Are Driving:
- Avoid driving during winter storms. If you must drive:
- Plan ahead for winter traveling. Be sure to let someone know where you are going, along with your primary and alternate routes.
- Prepare your vehicle for winter by checking (or having a mechanic check):
- If you get trapped in your car during a blizzard:
If You Are Outdoors:
- Use caution not to over exert yourself when shoveling snow. Heart attacks caused by overexertion are a major cause of death in the winter.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.
- Keep dry. If possible, change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected: