How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Winter storms can cause power outages that last for days. They can make roads and walkways extremely dangerous and also negatively affect critical community services including public transportation, childcare, and health programs. Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other winter storm conditions. Be better prepared this winter, and learn more at ready.gov/prepare.

Now/Prepare

  • Sign up for local alerts and warnings.
  • Create and test emergency communication plan(s).
  • Stock emergency supplies, and install battery-powered or battery backed-up carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.
  • Winterize your home. Visit this page to help you prepare.
  • Review your property insurance, and safeguard critical documents.
  • Get trained on specific needs your family may have. Also, consider joining your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
  • Identify a place nearby where you can safely warm up should you lose heat in your home.


During/Survive

  • Stay indoors and off the roads. If you must drive, keep emergency supplies in your car.
  • Close off rooms to consolidate and retain heat.
  • Dress in layers, and use blankets to stay warm.
  • Bring pets into a warm place and out of the storm or severe cold.
  • Never use a generator, camp stove, charcoal grill, or gasoline or propane heater indoors, as these items can start accidental fires, cause electric shock, and/or cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Never heat a home with a cooktop or oven.
  • Limit your time outdoors, and stay dry


After/Be Safe

  • Only drive if necessary. Remove snow and ice from your tailpipe before starting your car, and check regularly if idling. Clean all snow and ice from your car before driving.
  • Dress in warm clothing, stay dry, prevent prolonged exposure to cold and wind, and avoid overexertion clearing/shoveling snow. Overexertion can lead to a medical emergency
  • Monitor local news and alerts for emergency information and instructions.





STAY INFORMED: EMERGENCY NOTIFICATIONS

The National Weather Service (NWS) provides alerts and warnings for all hazards through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR) receiver. There are radio receivers that are designed to work with external notification devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. For more information on NWR receivers, visit https://www.weather.gov/nwr/nwr_warning.

Sign up for emergency alerts and notifications that your community may offer. Download Be Smart. Know Your Alerts and Warnings for a summary of notifications at ready.gov/prepare.

Download the FEMA and American Red Cross apps on iOS or Android at no cost. These apps may provide information about finding shelters, providing first aid, and seeking assistance for recovery. Search for the FEMA or American Red Cross apps on your smartphone or other mobile devices.


WATCHES AND WARNINGS

Learn the differences between Advisories, Watches, and Warnings, which describe changing winter weather conditions. Learning what these terms mean can help you understand how an approaching storm may impact you and what actions to take to stay safe. Winter Weather related Advisories, Watches, and Warnings are issued by your local National Weather Service office and are based upon local criteria.



Winter Weather Advisories are issued when snow, blowing snow, ice, sleet, or a combination of these wintry elements is expected but conditions should not be hazardous enough to meet Warning criteria. Be prepared for winter driving conditions and possible travel difficulties. Use caution when driving.




Winter Storm Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for a significant winter storm event. Heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice storms, blowing snow, or a combination of these events are possible.




Winter Storm Warnings are issued for a significant winter weather event including snow, ice, sleet, blowing snow, or a combination of these hazards. Travel will become difficult or impossible in some situations. Delay your travel plans until conditions improve.




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