Winter weather can cause a power outage, loss of heat and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for many days. Travel during winter storms can also be hazardous, and you may become stranded if conditions suddenly deteriorate.
What Should You Do to Get Ready for Winter Weather?
Make sure you have an updated emergency kit.
Having an emergency supply kit is essential to making it through a winter weather emergency safely. Ensure you and your family are equipped with flashlights, a first aid kit, a 3-day supply of food and water, warm clothing and more.
We've outlined a great list for you to start with, check it out here.
Make a plan.
Winter weather related emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning, so it is important to talk to your family about the hazards that could affect your area and to put a plan in place before severe weather hits. Establish meeting places, designate emergency contacts and record medical information to prepare for any emergency. Click here to make your plan.
It is critical that you have the most local, up-to-date information available. Listen to local media for weather-related information and instructions from emergency officials. And in case the power goes out, get a battery operated radio with Weather Band so you can hear local stations and reports from the National Weather Service. Click here to sign up for alerts.
How To Get Your Home Ready For Winter Weather
Here are some important tips for protecting your family and home:
- Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit before winter approaches. Include warm clothing and blankets.
- If you heat with a fireplace or wood stove: Have a professional check it, especially if it has been a long time since the last cleaning. Residue can build up and cause fires. Also, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat.
- Be safe when using generators and space heaters. Generators should not be placed indoors due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your generator is properly installed by a qualified electrician and placed outside away from air intakes. And never plug space heaters into extension cords; plug into wall outlets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects, and be sure to turn off before going to bed.
- Avoid using candles during power outages. Many home fires in winter are caused by candles. Flashlights are much safer. Be sure to have plenty of extra batteries.
- If you have pets: Bring them inside. If they must stay outside, be sure they have shelter and insulation from the cold. Don't use electric heating pads or any other heating appliances that can potentially burn your pet. Make sure your pet has enough food and unfrozen water; they may need more during cold temperatures.
Avoid Traveling During Winter Weather
The safest place during a winter storm is indoors. Try to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. It's always best to stay off roads during winter storms. Most traffic crashes happen within the first two hours after a storm starts.
If you must drive during a winter storm: Make sure you know the road conditions before you leave.
- Snow plows start on roads that carry the most traffic and then move to smaller roads. Try to stay off the road to give plows time and space to work.
- Wait until daylight to drive so that sunlight can warm the roads.
- Let someone know where you are going, what route you will take, and when you expect to arrive. This ensures that if something happens while you are traveling, someone knows where to send help.
- Go to 511 Virginia or dial 511 to get real-time traffic information and road conditions. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also offers the latest road reports and closures, as well as winter travel safety tips.
It's also important to make sure you fill your car's gas tank in advance and keep an updated car emergency kit.
Stay Safe during Extreme Cold
Arctic air, together with brisk winds, can lead to dangerously cold wind chill values. People exposed to extreme cold are susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes. Areas most prone to frostbite are uncovered skin and the extremities, such as hands and feet. Hypothermia is another threat during extreme cold. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce.
- Protect pets and animals; bring them indoors or move to a sheltered area and ensure they have enough unfrozen water.
- Protect your pipes by insulating them or leaving faucets drip during severe cold.
- Protect yourself by covering all exposed skin, even if you will be outside for a short period of time.
- Make sure your vehicle has at least half a tank of gas or more during extreme cold, in case you become stranded.
For additional information go to: http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threat/winter-weather/ or https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather