Winter Weather Safety

Winter Weather Safety ❄️

The winter season is quickly approaching and with it cooler weather. With cooler weather comes higher risk of winter storms . Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms including blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds. 

See below for:

  • Preparing for Winter Weather
  • Staying Safe During Winter 
  • Driving in Winter Weather
  • Snow Squalls
  • Wind Chill and Frost Bite Time
  • Preventing House Heating Fires
  • Preparing for Power Outages

Preparing for Winter Weather

Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights. If you are unable to afford your heating costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.

Staying Safe During Winter

  • Snow and Hydrant Stay off roads if at all possible. If trapped in your car, then stay inside.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. 
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling snow and walking in the snow.
  • During deep snow, clear away any low level vent pipes for hot water heater and/or gas furnace.
  • Remove snow and ice around fire hydrants near your house and create a clear path from the hydrant to the street. 

Driving in Winter Weather

  • Stay off icy roads when Winter Storm advisories & watches are issued.
  • Stay off roads if at all possible. 
  • If trapped in your car, then stay inside. If you must drive "Don't Crowd the Plow!"
  • Ice and snow, take it slow—slower speed, slower acceleration, slower steering, and slower braking.
  • Prepare your car for winter: keep your gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Snow Squallssnowy roadway

Snow squalls, often associated with strong cold fronts, are a key wintertime weather hazard. They move in and out quickly, and typically last less than an hour. The sudden white-out conditions combined with falling temperatures produce icy roads in just a few minutes. Squalls can occur where there is no large-scale winter storm in progress and might only produce minor accumulations. Snow squalls can cause localized extreme impacts to the traveling public and to commerce for brief periods of time. Unfortunately, there is a long history of deadly traffic accidents associated with snow squalls. Although snow accumulations are typically an inch or less, the added combination of gusty winds, falling temperatures and quick reductions in visibility can cause extremely dangerous conditions for motorists.Snow Squall

 Wind Chill and Frost Bite Times

Be cautious when spending time outdoors in the cold. 


Home Safety 

Preventing House Heating Fires

  • Check smoke detectors and CO detectors
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from all heat sources including fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, portable heaters or candles.
  • Always plug space heaters directly into an outlet, and make sure its cord isn’t damaged or frayed.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.

Visit the U.S. Fire Administration Home Fires page to learn about how to prepare for and prevent home fires including tips for individuals with disabilities and older adults.

Preparing for Power Outages 

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
  • If you use a generator, ONLY use it outdoors and away from windows.
  • Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.
  • Go to a community location with power if cold is extreme and you can’t heat your home.