Winter Storms

Be prepared before a storm hits. At home and at work your Primary concerns are the potential loss of heat and power, telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day.

Have available:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
  • Extra Food and water. High energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
  • Extra medicine and baby items.
  • First aid supplies
  • Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm.
  • Emergency Heating Source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.
  • Learn to use it properly to prevent a fire.
  • Have proper ventilation.
  • Fire Extinguisher and Smoke Detector.
  • Test units regularly to ensure they are working properly.

On the Farm

  • Move animals to sheltered areas.
  • Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
  • Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
  • Have a water supply available. Most animal deaths in storms are from dehydration.

In Cars & Trucks

  • Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid the storm!
  • Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins.
  • Carry a winter storm survival kit:
    • blankets / sleeping bags; flashlight with extra batteries; first aid kit; knife; high-calorie, nonperishable food; extra clothing to keep dry; a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towel for sanitary purposes; a smaller can and waterproof matches to melt now for drinking water; sack of sand ( or cat litter ); shovel; windshield scraper and brush; tool kit; tow rope; booster cables; water container; compass and road map.
  • Keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Try not to travel alone.
  • Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.

What to Listen For

  • Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and / or ice, are possible within the next day or two. Prepare now!
  • Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin in your area. Stay indoors!
  • Blizzard Warning: Snow and strong winds will combine to produce blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately!
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, these situations should not become life-threatening. The greatest hazard is often to motorists.
  • Frost  /  Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause significant damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees. In areas unaccustomed to freezing temperatures, people who have homes without heat need to take added precautions.

When Caught in a Winter Storm


  • Find Shelter:
    • Try to stay dry.
    • Cover all exposed parts of the body.
  • No Shelter:
    • Prepare a lean-to, windbreak, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
    • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
    • Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
  • Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.

In a Car or Truck

  • Stay in your car or truck. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
  • Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat:
    • Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers:
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
    • Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
    • Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

At Home or in a Building

  • Stay inside. When using ALTERNATIVE HEAT from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.:
    • Use fire safeguards.
    • Properly ventilate.
  • No Heat:
    • Close off unneeded rooms.
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Cover windows at night.

Eat and Drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.