Whether it’s snow, ice, freezing rain, or high winds, winter storms can wreak havoc this time of year. It’s important to understand how to protect yourself, your family, and your home in the case of a severe winter storm this season:

Before a storm, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare for severe weather. As the year goes on, prepare for winter months by gathering emergency supplies and discussing emergency plans with your family members. Make sure to gather important supplies like water, food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, necessary prescription medicines, extra clothing, and blankets. Ensure that you have a flashlight, radio, and cell phone charger that can all be powered by batteries or other non-electric means.

In case you are caught in your vehicle during a storm, it is important to have an emergency kit there as well. This supply kit should contain water, snacks, a flashlight, warm clothing, gloves, an ice scraper, jumper cables, and a first kit. If possible, also include a bag of sand or tire chains. You should also prepare your actual vehicle to handle the low temperatures and dangerous conditions of a winter storm. Check the antifreeze levels, battery and ignition system, brake conditions and fluid levels, headlights, and windshield wipers, and install solid tires. In addition, keep your fuel tank full whenever possible to keep the fuel line from freezing.

You can also prepare before a winter storm by:

  • Installing battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors
  • Making sure you have candles or other backup lighting in case of a power outage
  • Finding a battery-powered radio to listen to during a power outage to stay informed about weather conditions
  • If you can use an outside generator, get an electric cord long enough to keep the generator at least 20 feet away from doors, windows, or vents
  • Making plans for how to avoid driving in dangerous conditions
  • Ensuring your vehicle is prepared to handle snow and ice, particularly the tires
  • Signing up for emergency notifications through services from the National Weather Service, the American Red Cross, FEMA, and local news stations

During a storm, do everything you can to stay indoors and avoid traveling. If you must be outside, protect yourself from hypothermia and frostbite by wearing multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm, lightweight clothing. If you must drive or ar on the road when the storm starts, use extra precaution and pull off to the side of the road or use your hazard lights if necessary.  If the power goes out, make sure to:

  • Conserve heat by closing off unused rooms, wearing layered clothing, and using blankets to stay warm
  • Bring pets indoors
  • Never use grills, camp stoves, propane heaters, gasoline heaters, or generators indoors
  • Never heat your home with your stove

After a storm, remember that driving conditions will still be dangerous. Avoid driving until the roads have been cleared, and continue to use caution in case there are hidden patches of ice. If the temperatures are still low and you must go outside, dress in warm clothing, stay dry, and try to avoid spending long periods of time outdoors.