Winter weather presents safety challenges inside and outside the home. Be prepared and follow this safety advice to help stay safe and warm.
Prepare and maintain a disaster kit for your home before winter weather arrives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it should contain:
First aid kit and essential medicines
Battery-powered radio, flashlight, lamps, and extra batteries
Battery-powered watch or clock
An alternate way to heat your home such as dry firewood if you have a fireplace or wood stove or kerosene for a kerosene heater
Furnace fuel (coal, propane, or oil)
Electric space heater with automatic shut-off switch and non-glowing elements
Multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher
Nonperishable food items such as energy bars, canned food, and a can opener
Water (at least 1 gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days)
Extra-warm clothing, including boots, mittens, and a hat
Don't travel by car in winter storms and poor conditions. If you must drive, be sure your car has a survival kit with:
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Bag of sand or cat litter (for traction)
Compass and map
Cellphone and portable cellphone charger with extra batteries
In addition, you should:
Check local websites or listen to your local radio or TV station for road conditions and closures.
Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
Use wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
Check your tires’ treads. If needed, replace tires with all-weather tires or snow tires.
Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If you get stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
If you do become stranded, stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away. Put a bright cloth on the antenna to stay visible. Only run the engine and heater for 10 minutes every hour. But first make sure your tailpipe is not blocked.
When you combine the air temperature with the wind speed, the temperature your body feels is the wind chill index.
If possible, stay indoors during winter storms. If you must go outside, wear several layers of clothing, gloves or mittens, and a hat to prevent loss of body heat.
Wind chill increases the rate at which heat is carried away from the body. The faster the wind, the faster the body's temperature is driven down. This quickly increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
When bad weather threatens, listen to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Also check local websites for updated information.
A winter storm watch means a winter storm is possible in your area.
A winter storm warning means a winter storm is headed for your area.
A blizzard warning means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected.
If the storm drops lots of snow, be careful shoveling. Warm up before you begin by stretching your back, legs, and arms. Take frequent breaks and stop if you become fatigued or have shortness of breath or muscle strain.
Push snow in front of you if you can. If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs, not your back. Don't toss snow over your shoulder. If you have a snowblower, read the instruction manual before using it. Make sure you know about its specific safety hazards and any unfamiliar features.