Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to
a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several
days. Some winter storms are large enough to affect several
states, while others affect only a single community. Many
winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and
sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.
Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be
prepared in order to remain safe during these events.
Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm
conditions are possible in the next 2 - 5 days.
Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather
conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may
be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should
not be life threatening.
Winter Storm Watch: Winter storm
conditions are possible within the next 36 - 48 hours. People
in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay
informed about weather conditions.
Winter Storm Warning: Life threatening,
severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24-hours.
People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.
Cold-Related Emergencies: Frostbite and hypothermia are two dangerous and potentially
For information about
Frostbite & Hypothermia and what to do.
How to Prepare for a Winter Storm:
- Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A
full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering
windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them
cleaned and inspected every year.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the
heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55
- Put a Supply Kit together
During a Winter Storm - Remaining Safe:
- Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or local TV stations
for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the
National Weather Service (NWS).
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather.
Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure
that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow
drifts, ice or other obstacles.
- Running water, even a trickle, helps prevent pipes from
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside
and kept clear.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air
to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any
harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during
the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of
lower night-time temperatures, you may incur a higher heating
bill, but you can prevent a must more costly repair job if pipes
freeze and burst.
- Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power
or heat during periods of extreme cold.
- Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain
or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary,
keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures,
consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the
nature of the task.
- Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing
warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers.
Stay indoors, if possible.
- Help people who require special assistance such as elderly
people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline,
propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home,
garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow
carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources
for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide
poisoning, electric shock and fire.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every
level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early
warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
- If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh
air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
- Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there
until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.