Winter storms can bring freezing temperatures, large quantities
of snow and ice, high winds and blizzard conditions. Cold temperatures,
snow, ice, blizzard conditions with high winds and dangerous wind
chills can all occur, leading to personal injury and possibly deaths.
High winds combined with cold temperatures speeds the rate of heat
loss to the body making serious health problems, such as frostbite
or hypothermia more likely. Additional fatalities may occur from
vehicle accidents, fires or carbon monoxide poisoning following
the misuse of heaters. Dangerous driving conditions can lead to
travelers being stranded on the road. Accumulations of snow and
ice can result in road closures or blockages – isolating homes
and farms for days.
The heavy weight burden may cause roofs to collapse or knock down
trees and power lines resulting in power outages and subsequent
loss of heat in homes. Animals are also at risk during severe winter
weather and are subject to wind chill factors, hypothermia and frostbite.
Deaths can also occur due to dehydration, when water sources freeze
and become unavailable. Winter conditions may make getting food
and water to animals more difficult.
As a result, hazards to you and your family’s health are
possible. Preparing before the storm can help you protect your family.
Before a Winter Storm: Prepare Your Family
- Stay informed.
- Monitor for severe winter weather in your area at the NOAA
National Weather Service. http://www.weather.gov/
- Know the terminology.
- Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter conditions,
such a heavy snow and/or ice, are possible for your area in the
next 12 to 36 hours. Prepare now!
- Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter conditions
are expected in the next 12-24 hours; 4-6 inches of snow or sleet,
or 1/4 inch or more of ice is expected. Seek shelter immediately!
- Blizzard Warning: Snow and strong winds (gusts
up to 35 mph or greater) will combine to produce a blinding snow
(near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life threatening wind
chill; expected to occur for three hours or longer.
- Prepare an emergency kit.
- Food, water and necessities for all members of the family to
last 3 to 5 days; high energy food (e.g., dried fruit) or canned
food that require no cooking or refrigeration is best
- Any medications needed for family members
- First aid kit, battery powered radio, flashlight with extra
- Sleeping bags or blankets
- Extra clothing and boots, hats, mittens
- Emergency contact numbers
- Family communication plan.
- Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends
time: work, daycare and school.
- Have a plan of how you will contact each other if you are in
or establish a location to meet.
- Have an out-of-state relative or friend serve as the family
- Learn the location of the emergency shelters for your area.
Before a Winter Storm: Prepare Your Vehicle
- Prepare your car for winter.
- Have your car systems serviced; check the battery, antifreeze,
- Replace wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
- Replace worn tires; check the air pressure in the tires.
- Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank or fuel lines.
Prepare a survival kit for your car that includes:
- Blankets/sleeping bags
- Extra winter clothes (mittens, hats, scarves), boots
- High calorie, non-perishable food (e.g., unsalted nuts, dried
fruit); hard candy can help keep your mouth moist
- A can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
- Flashlight, extra batteries, battery powered radio, first aid
- Shovel, windshield scraper
- Road salt, sand or cat litter
- Cell phone and charger
- Jumper cables, tow rope, tool kit
- Compass and road maps
During a Winter Storm
- Stay informed.
- Listen to local news and weather channels for situation
developments and road closures.
- Stay inside.
- Avoid traveling during the storm period.
- This can help you avoid injuries from cold temperatures,
slips on the ice or car accidents.
- Gather your emergency supplies.
- Be prepared for power outages or conditions requiring you
to remain at home for several days.
- Stay safe while indoors.
- Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters
only if they are properly vented to the outside.
- Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns.
- Avoid using candles; if they are used never leave them unattended
- If you lose power or heat to your home and do not have back-up
heat options, go to a designated public shelter.
- Stay nourished.
- Eat to provide your body with energy to produce its own
- Keep your body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.