Are You Prepared for Winter Weather?

Winter Safety Tips

Preparing for winter weather can be as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Make an emergency plan. Plans should include each member of your household. Include a communications plan. For example, if you have a multi-generational home you may plan for the needs of babies, children, and grandparents. Keeping in mind the household members with different abilities that may require special assistance or use of medical or mobility equipment, and let's not forget our pets!
  2. Build an emergency kit. Have an emergency preparedness "go-kit" ready in case you need to leave the house quickly! Using your plan as a guide, you can have the appropriate items ready to go at a moment's notice. Make a kit for each of your vehicles in the event you are stranded and need supplies to keep you safe until help arrives.
  3. Practice your plan! Gather your household together so everyone understands the plan and their role in the process.

Prepare your home

  • Winterize your home.
  • Heat your home safely.
  • Make a household plan and build an emergency kit.
  • Have your furnace system and fireplace inspected by a qualified technician.
  • Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

Prepare your vehicles

  • Winterize your vehicles. Check the tires and fluids.
  • Keep your gas tank full.
  • Keep an emergency kit in each vehicle.
  • Equip your car with an emergency kit that includes first-aid kit, blankets, flashlight, extra batteries, water, snacks, cell phone charger, and emergency flares.

Prepare your family

  • Check the weather forecast before engaging in outdoor activities.
  • Dress in layers of light and warm clothing. Keep your feet, hands, and head well covered.
  • Avoid overexertion when engaging in outdoor tasks, such as shoveling snow. Take breaks when you feel tired or strained.
  • If you have pets, bring them indoors. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to water.
  • Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Check on your neighbors that may need assistance.

Know where to receive Emergency Communications, Alerts and Warnings

  • Sign up for your community's warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and NOAA Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

More Tips to Consider

  • If possible before winter sets in, consider investing in an alternative heating source, such as a fireplace, propane or kerosene heater, or generator - in case of an extended power outage.
    • Make sure auxiliary heaters and fireplaces are adequately maintained and serviced. Many fires related to auxiliary heating sources are preventable through simple maintenance.
    • Before installing a wood-burning stove, check with local fire officials as to codes and proper installation techniques.
    • Do not store kerosene in a non-approved container or inside your home and be sure to keep flammable materials (walls, curtains, etc.) away from all heat sources.
  • Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure coverage is adequate for the type of winter weather in your area. Learn what is excluded from the policy.
  • During the winter, drain pipes if your power goes off or if you plan an extended stay away from home. To drain, turn off the water heater and main water supply, open all faucets in the house and drain the system by keeping the valves open. Drain all toilets by holding the lever down until the tank empties. If well water is used, the pump’s electric switch should be shut off and the pressure tank and system should be drained.