The winter months bring snow and ice storms, power outages and hazardous driving conditions. However, you can prepare for a disaster by taking a few steps to deal with the challenges of winter weather.
Compile an emergency survival kit that includes a three-day supply of food and water, flashlights, a first- aid kit, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries and medications.
Create a family communications plan. Make sure everyone agrees on a local meeting place if you cannot return home. Designate an out-of-town contact in the event you become separated.
Before, during and after a storm, get current information through the news media and from local emergency management officials.
This publication features winter storm survival tips. More detailed information is available at www.fema.gov.
Before Severe Weather Arrives
Store drinking water, first-aid kit, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in the dark.
Keep vehicles fueled and in good repair, with a winter emergency kit in each.
Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio or local radio and/or TV station for information and emergency instructions.
Know how to turn off gas, electric power and water before evacuating.
Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
Keep plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, sandbags and hand tools accessible.
Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks; and 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.
During a Winter Storm
Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your house cooler than normal. Temporarily shut off heat to less-used rooms.
Avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, do so during daylight. Do not travel alone. Stay on main roads, keep others informed of your schedule and follow routes designated by local officials.
If you go outside for any reason, dress for expected conditions. For cold weather, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air. Wear sturdy, water-proof boots in snow or flooding conditions.
After the Storm
Report downed power lines and broken gas lines immediately.
After blizzards, heavy snows or extreme cold, check to see that no physical damage has occurred and that water pipes are functioning. Wait for streets and roads to be opened before you attempt to drive anywhere.
Check on neighbors, especially any who might need help. Beware of overexertion and exhaustion. Shoveling snow in extreme cold causes many heart attacks. Set your priorities and pace yourself after any disaster that leaves you with a mess to clean up. The natural tendency is to do too much too soon.