Winter Weather

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SnowSupplies to add to your disaster supplies kit

  • Safe Ice Melt to use on walkways.
  • Sand to improve traction.
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment. Information about emergency kits.
Prepare your home and family
  • Purchase a battery powered All Hazards Radio.
  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel in case regular fuel sources are cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weatherstripping doors and windows, installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic, clearing rain gutters, repairing roof leaks, and cutting 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.
  • Know in advance what to do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.

Prepare your car

  • Antifreeze levels - make sure they are sufficient to avoid freezing. Read these safety tips from the Environmental Protection Agency for children and pets and antifreeze substances. 
  • Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
  • Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes, and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
  • Heater and defroster - make sure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights - make sure they work.
  • Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat - make sure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Maintain good winter tires - make sure the tires have adequate tread and are checked by a professional.
  • Gas level - maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
    • a shovel
    • windshield scraper and small broom
    • flashlight
    • battery powered radio
    • extra batteries
    • water
    • snack food (nonperishable)
    • matches
    • extra hats, socks and mittens
    • first aid kit with necessary medications if traveling
    • blanket(s)
    • tow chain or rope
    • road salt and sand
    • booster cables.

Dress for the weather

  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Make sure each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots.
  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent.
  • Chose mittens instead of gloves because they keep your hands warmer.
  • Wear a hat because your body loses heat from your head area.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs when temperatures are extremely low.

What to do after a winter storm

  • Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community or roads may be blocked.
  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance -- infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
  • Avoid traveling until conditions have improved. Roads may be blocked by snow or emergency vehicles.
  • Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.
  • Follow forecasts and be prepared when venturing outside. Major winter storms are often followed by even colder conditions.
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