Winter Weather Preparedness Tips

It is about that time to get our winter weather legs under us and remember what it is like to properly prepare for and get through winter storms.  What follows are number of general safety tips regarding what to do in advance of and during winter storms.  Be prepared and be safe!

BEFORE the storm...
  • Be familiar with winter storm warning messages -
  • Service snow removal equipment and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways and kitty litter to generate temporary traction. 
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
  • Winterize your home
  • Insulate walls and attic. 
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. 
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
Have safe emergency heating equipment available.
  • Fireplace with ample supply of wood. 
  • Small, well-vented, wood, coal, or camp stove with fuel. 
  • Portable space heaters. (Kerosene Heaters: Check with your local fire department on the legality of using kerosene heaters in your community. Use only the correct fuel for your unit and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Refuel outdoors only, and only when cool. Keep your kerosene heater at least 3 feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.)
  • Install and check smoke detectors.
Keep pipes from freezing.
  • Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers. 
  • Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. 
  • Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing. 
  • Know how to shut off water valves.
Have disaster supplies on hand, in case the power goes out -
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit
  • One-week supply of food (include items that do not require refrigeration or cooking in case the power is shut off)
  • Manual can opener
  • One-week supply of essential prescription medications.
  • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
  • Fire extinguisher (A-B-C type)
Develop an emergency communication plan.
  • In case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together. 
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." 
  • After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person. 
  • Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a severe winter storm. 
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.

DURING the storm...

If Indoors --
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly. 
  • Conserve fuel. 
  • Lower the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. Close off unused rooms. 
  • 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). 
  • Listen to the radio or television to get the latest information.
If Outdoors --
  • Dress warmly. 
  • Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other. 
  • Stretch before you go out. 
  • If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. Also take frequent breaks. 
  • Cover your mouth. 
  • Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration. 
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. 
  • Keep dry. 
  • Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly. 
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.