WinterStorm Information, Preparation Before & After
During a Winter Storm
• If you are outdoors
• If you are driving
• Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and
• Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal.
Temporarily close off heat to some 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).
• Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes.
Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable
Know Your Winter Storm and Extreme Cold Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:
Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways,
trees, and power lines.
Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on
roads to freeze and become slippery.
Winter Storm Watch
A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial
radio, or television for more information.
Winter Storm Warning
A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable
amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are
expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
Below freezing temperatures are expected.
Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:
• Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
• Sand to improve traction
• Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
Prepare your home and family
• Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel
sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your
fireplace or wood-burning stove.
• Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics,
caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or
covering windows with plastic.
• Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your
family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut
away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
• Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little
during cold weather to avoid freezing.
• Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to
use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating
sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
• Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
• Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or
• Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy
weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
Prepare your car
* Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
* Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
* Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be
* Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
* Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary.
Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
* Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and
maintaining a full tank of gas.
* Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
* Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
* Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do
not lubricate as well.
* Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
* Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
* Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are
usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to
drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
* Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
* Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
* a shovel
* windshield scraper and small broom
* battery powered radio
* extra batteries
* snack food
* extra hats, socks and mittens
* First aid kit with pocket knife
* Necessary medications
* tow chain or rope
* road salt and sand
* booster cables
* emergency flares
* fluorescent distress flag
Dress for the Weather
• Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of
heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
• Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
• Wear a hat.
• Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.