How to prepare BEFORE winter storms
Prepare yourself and your family:
- Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency. Items should include: flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, warm clothing, blankets, a radio, bottled water, phone charger, food, medication and money.
- Keep space heater safety in mind: Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
Prepare your home:
Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
Other Preparedness Measures:
- Make sure you have a cell phone with an emergency charging option (car, solar, hand crank, etc.) in case of a power failure.
- People who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.
- Plan to check on elderly/disabled relatives and neighbors.
- Plan to bring pets inside.
What to do DURING winter storms:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and your route; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
- 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.
- If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
- Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.