Winter Weather Preparedness Tips
FEMA Document Last Updated: Tuesday, 11-Feb-2003
Page Link: http://www.fema.gov/hazards/winterstorms/winterweatherf.shtm
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging everyone to take preventive measures to ensure their safety and reduce the risk of winter storm damage to property.
Preparing Your Family
Assemble a disaster supply kit. Store drinking water,
canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, first aid kit, battery-powered
radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in
the dark. Also include winter specific items such as rock salt, sand and
other snow removal equipment.
Prepare for the possibility that you will need to stay in
your home for several days after a winter storm. Make sure that you have
sufficient heating fuel as well as emergency heating equipment in case
electricity is cut off.
House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to
alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows
how to use them.
Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or
disabled friends and neighbors or employees.
Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid a
build-up of toxic fumes and always refuel outside. Keep all heaters at least
three feet from flammable objects.
Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy, waterproof boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.
Preparing Your Car
Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair.
Winterize your car by checking your car battery, ignition system,
thermostat, lights, flashers, exhaust, heater, brakes, defroster and tires.
Ensure that your car has adequate antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and
oil and check regularly throughout the season.
Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes a
shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra
batteries, water, snack food, extra hats and mittens, blanket, tow chain or
rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares and fluorescent
If traveling by car during a winter weather advisory or winter storm watch, do so in daylight, don't travel alone, keep others informed of your schedule and route, and stay on main roads. Avoid driving during a winter storm warning or blizzard warning.
Preparing Your Home
Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic,
insulate walls and attics, and apply caulk and weather-stripping to doors
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.
Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
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.
Remove ice and snow from tree limbs, roof and other structures after the storm passes.
Winter Weather Terms
Know the terms used by weather forecasters so that you
clearly understand the risk to your family and your community, including:
Winter weather advisory - Winter weather conditions are
expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous,
especially to motorists;
Winter storm watch - Be alert, a storm is possible;
Winter storm warning - Take action, the storm is
occurring or will soon occur in the area;
Blizzard warning - Snow and strong winds combined will
produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and
life-threatening wind chill - seek refuge immediately;
Frost/freeze warning - Below freezing temperatures are expected.
Winter storms accounted for five national major disasters and eight emergency declarations in 2001 as well as five major disasters and one emergency declaration to date in 2002. The severe weather damaged homes and businesses from New York to Oregon.
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