When a Winter Storm Watch or Warning Is Issued
Threatening winter weather expected? Be safe, be smart and tune to your local radio or television stations for information and instructions. Then follow these tips.
Before The Winter Storm
WHN Tip: Family members not home when the blizzard begins? Contact them to give them the weather update and make sure they are in a warm safe place. Depending on the conditions, it might be wiser for them to stay where they are.
Grab extra blankets. Make sure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat and water-resistant boots.
Grab flashlights and batteries in case of power failure. Avoid using candles if possible.
Check your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and stock up and/or replace missing items that might be needed in case you lose water or heat or are trapped inside your home.
Depending on temperatures, add items like extra matches, extra blankets, a tin can and survival candles. You might lose power as result of the storm.
WHN Tip: Watch the Forecast.
You might be snowed in for a few days. Stock up on extra canned food items, water and entertainment items: books, movies, games, etc.
Prepare Your Home
Shut and latch all doors and windows.
Bring vehicles under a covering or inside a garage.
Restock your car emergency kit .
WHN Tip: Make sure your car emergency kit is inside your vehicle, not in the trunk. If you need to evacuate, you want it handy in case you're stranded on the road.
Have a fireplace? Collect extra firewood in case there's a power loss.
During the Winter Storm
When At Home
Be safe, be smart.
Stay inside and continue listening to local radio or television stations for information and instructions.
Dress warmly. Wearing layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than one bulky sweater.
If Trapped Outdoors
Be safe, be smart.
Find a shelter out of the wind. Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of your body. If you can't find shelter, prepare a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.
Build a fire for heat, to attract attention and to melt snow for drinking.
WHN Tip: Don't eat snow. It will lower your body temperature.
Do not attempt to walk out of a winter storm. Disorientation comes quickly in blowing and drifting snow.
If In a Car
WHN Tip: If you'll be doing driving in winter, check out these tips:
Stranded? Be safe, be smart — focus on staying warm and staying visible.
Keep hats on — even in the car. You can lose a lot of your body heat through your head. Move around to stay warm but don't overexert yourself.
Huddle with other passengers and use extra coats as a blanket. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing — anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
Police officers and rescue workers suggest that you stay with your car. It's dangerous to try to walk out of a winter storm.
Attract attention with hazard lights and tie a red cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see. Set out a warning light or flares.
Raise the hood to indicate trouble after snow stops falling.
WHN Tip: Before running your engine for heat, check that the exhaust pipe isn't blocked by snow, which can cause a toxic level of gas fumes to build up inside the car.
Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour.
Wondering about winter warnings and alerts? Read our article Winter Weather Advisories and Warnings.
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