Winter Storms

During winter months, passing weather systems can produce significant snow, sleet, and icy road conditions in a short frame of time. The following are tips to keeping safe in the midst of weather-related hazards:

Prior to an Approaching Storm
  • Obtain and store the recommended amounts of water for your family (one gallon per person per day of sheltering).
  • Obtain non-perishable food items.
  • Check your preparedness kits to ensure supplies are up-to date and that flashlights, radios and other items are still operational; replace any batteries that are not fully charged.
Winter Composite
  • Charge any cell phones or electronic devices.
  • Safely remove any dead trees/limbs which could fall during an ice storm.
  • Bring pets inside.
  • Apply appropriate de-icers to sidewalks and other frequently traveled areas.
  • Secure doors and windows on sheds, barns, and other buildings on your property.
  • Fill vehicles' tanks with fuel; ensure each vehicle has an updated preparedness kit and ice scraper.
  • For convenience, cover vehicles' windshields in advance with blankets/tarps; this saves time should the need arise to clear the glass quickly.
  • Park vehicles at the top of driveways, yet out of the line of snow removal crews.
  • Check insulation on pipes and utility connections; inspect power tools to ensure all are working properly and likewise filled with fuel.
  • Check that generators are functioning properly and all cords and power connections are safely working; obtain enough fuel to operate the generator should power be lost for an extended period of time. Plan where to place generators to minimize the risk of toxic fumes.
  • Read instructions on sheltering in place.
During Winter Storms
  • Avoid over-exertion when shoveling snow.
  • Cover your mouth if going outside during extreme cold to protect your lungs.
  • Keep dry.
  • Be aware of signs of frostbite and hypothermia (loss of feeling in extremities, discolored skin, uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion).
  • Use extra caution if using wood, kerosene or other fuels as supplemental heating sources. Ensure proper ventilation is present; refill units outside. Keep space heaters away from flammable items.
  • If pipes freeze, carefully remove the insulation layers and wrap pipes with rags. Open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting at the most exposed point.
  • Provide animals access to shelter and water sources.
View safety information on storm-related power outages.

If Traveling During Severe Winter Weather

  • If roads are covered with ice/snow, wait until they have been adequately cleared before driving; reduce speed to accommodate for roadway conditions.
  • Pull over in a safe location (away from trees and structures) if your vision is hindered by precipitation.
  • Turn on caution lights to indicate your location to other drivers; tune into local radio for weather updates
  • Be aware of conditions which cause “black ice” (shaded areas on roadways, unseen ice patches on bridges and overpasses).
If Stranded During Severe Winter Weather
  • Turn on hazard lights; hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  • Remain in your vehicle unless shelter is clearly visible.
  • Run the engine/heater about 10 minutes each hour for warmth.
  • Open a window slightly and clear snow from the exhaust pipe (to minimize the risk of possible carbon monoxide poisoning).
  • Drink fluids or eat snow to avoid dehydration; move arms and legs to generate heat.
  • If in a remote area, create large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS; draw attention by lining the message with rocks or branches, making it easier for rescue personnel to detect.