Winter Storm Preparedness

Preparing for a winter storm means ensuring you have the necessary supplies to sustain you and your household for several days. Heating and plumbing are critical components to consider, as they can significantly impact your comfort and safety during severe winter conditions. Here’s how to ensure you’re ready.

Building Your Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is your first line of defense when a winter storm strikes. According to, your kit should contain food, water, and other essentials that can last for at least 72 hours. Store these items in airtight plastic bags and use sturdy, easy-to-carry containers like plastic bins or duffel bags.

Here’s a basic checklist to get you started (winter storm emergency checklist):

  • Water: one gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation
  • Food: a supply of non-perishable items
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Customizing Your Supplies

Your emergency kit should be tailored to the specific needs of your household. Consider the needs of pets, seniors, or anyone with special medical requirements. Add the following items as needed:

  • Prescription medications
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents in a waterproof container
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing for each person
  • Chlorine bleach and a dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Disinfectant

Remember to maintain your kit regularly so it’s ready whenever a winter storm or other emergencies arise. It’s also wise to prepare smaller kits for your workplace or car in case you are away from home when a storm hits.

For home-specific preparedness, such as ensuring your heating system and plumbing are winter-ready, check out winter storm home maintenance, winter storm plumbing tips, winter storm furnace maintenance, winter storm boiler maintenance, and winter storm radiator maintenance.

By taking the time to build and customize your emergency kit, you’ll be better equipped to handle what to do during a winter storm and maintain your well-being throughout its duration. Stay informed and prepared to tackle the challenges a winter storm may present.

Pet Safety During Winter Storms

Ensuring the safety and comfort of your pets is just as important as looking after the rest of your family during a winter storm. As a responsible pet owner, you must take proactive steps to safeguard your furry friends against the harsh weather. Below are essential preparations for your indoor pets and considerations for outdoor pet care.

Indoor Pet Preparations

When extreme cold weather hits, the best practice is to keep your pets safely indoors. The ASPCA and National Weather Service advise that you ensure they have essential items like extra food and water, especially in case of power outages. Here’s a quick checklist for your indoor pet preparations:

  • Stock up on extra pet food and water.
  • Create a cozy and warm space away from drafts.
  • Have blankets available for additional warmth.
  • Keep a supply of medications if your pet requires any.
  • Ensure your pet’s identification tags are up-to-date in case they get lost.

For a more comprehensive guide on winter storm preparedness, check out our winter storm preparedness tips and winter storm emergency checklist.

Outdoor Pet Care

If your pets spend a lot of time outdoors, the American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States recommend providing them with a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough for them to move comfortably, raised off the ground, and insulated against the wind (American Red Cross). Here’s what you need to do to ensure their safety:

  • Build or improve an outdoor shelter with insulation materials.
  • Raise the shelter off the ground to prevent moisture accumulation.
  • Ensure the opening of the shelter is turned away from prevailing winds.
  • Provide thick bedding, such as straw or blankets, for warmth.
  • Check and replace water frequently to prevent freezing.
  • Use a heated bowl to keep water at a drinkable temperature.
  • Protect your pets’ paws from harmful chemicals with pet-safe ice melt.
  • Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately to prevent poisoning.

When managing your pet’s outdoor environment, consider their paws’ sensitivity to salt and ice-melt chemicals. Wipe their paws with a damp towel upon returning indoors, and consider applying petroleum jelly or using booties to protect their feet. Always use pet-friendly deicing products on your property to minimize the risk of irritation (American Red Cross).

For more information on pet safety during winter storms and other related topics, explore our resources on how to stay safe during a winter storm, winter storm safety precautions, and winter storm home maintenance, including specific tips on winter storm plumbing, furnace, boiler, and radiator maintenance.

Driving Safety in Winter Conditions

Navigating the roads during a winter storm can be treacherous. With the right precautions and preparedness, however, you can significantly reduce your risk of accidents and ensure your safety. Here are essential tips for vehicle preparation and safe driving practices in snowy and icy conditions.

Vehicle Preparation

Before the onset of a winter storm, it’s critical to ensure your vehicle is in top condition and equipped for the harsh weather. The National Weather Service recommends a thorough check of your vehicle’s fluid levels, lights, heater, and windshield wipers. Keep your gas tank close to full to prevent ice from forming in the tank and fuel lines.

Here’s a quick checklist for vehicle preparation:

  • Ensure all fluids are topped up, including antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.
  • Check tire pressure and tread depth, and install winter tires if necessary.
  • Confirm that your heater and defroster are working properly.
  • Install new windshield wiper blades and keep extra on hand.
  • Keep a Winter Storm Survival Kit in your vehicle, which includes items like blankets, a flashlight, a shovel, and non-perishable snacks.

It’s also advisable to avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your itinerary and check the latest road conditions before you set out.

Safe Driving Practices

Once on the road, the key to safety is vigilance and patience. More than 418,000 people are injured annually in weather-related vehicle crashes, so slow down and be aware of black ice, which can be almost invisible (National Weather Service). Drive as if you are on ice whenever the temperature is close to freezing.

Follow these safe driving practices for winter conditions:

  • Reduce your speed and increase your following distance to account for longer stopping distances on slippery roads.
  • Avoid sudden starts, stops, and turns to maintain control of your vehicle.
  • Use your headlights to increase your visibility to other drivers.
  • If you become stranded, remain in your vehicle to stay protected from the cold and to make yourself more visible to rescuers.
  • Keep fresh air circulating in the car by slightly opening a window to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Run your vehicle’s engine and heater for about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm, ensuring your exhaust pipe is clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning (Clear Roads).
  • Make your vehicle visible to rescuers by setting up flares and keeping your flashers on.
  • Stay active to maintain circulation by gently moving your arms and legs.

For comprehensive guides on vehicle and home preparedness for winter storms, visit winter storm home maintenance, winter storm plumbing tips, winter storm furnace maintenance, winter storm boiler maintenance, and winter storm radiator maintenance. These resources provide valuable advice on what to do before, during, and after a winter storm to keep you, your family, and your property safe.

During a Winter Storm

When a winter storm hits, your safety and that of your family (including pets) should be your top priority. Knowing what to do during a winter storm can help you navigate the situation safely and effectively.

Immediate Actions

As the storm intensifies, there are immediate actions you should take to ensure your safety:

  • Stay Indoors: Avoid going outside. The storm can intensify quickly, and it’s safer to be inside your home.
  • Inform: Let a friend or family member know that you are safe and plan to stay put until the storm passes.
  • Stay Informed: Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio handy to listen to weather updates and emergency information.
  • Conserve Heat: Minimize unnecessary travel from room to room and block drafts under doors and windows to keep the heat in.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing a car can cause sweating. The wet clothing could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
  • Vehicle Safety: If you are stranded in your vehicle, it is crucial to stay inside to maintain your body heat. Clear Roads recommends running the engine periodically for heat, ensuring the exhaust pipe is not blocked, and slightly opening a window for ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Recognizing Signs of Cold-Related Illnesses

During a winter storm, being able to recognize the signs of cold-related illnesses can be life-saving:

Illness Signs and Symptoms
Hypothermia Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion
Frostbite A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose

If you or someone else shows signs of these illnesses, seek immediate medical attention. In the meantime, warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using blankets or warm clothing. Do not immerse the victim in warm water as this can cause shock.

For more detailed information on how to prepare for a winter storm, review our winter storm preparedness tips and winter storm emergency checklist. Additionally, ensure your home’s heating and plumbing systems are well-maintained to prevent issues during the storm—check out our winter storm home maintenance, winter storm plumbing tips, winter storm furnace maintenance, winter storm boiler maintenance, and winter storm radiator maintenance for guidance.

Remember, the key to staying safe during a winter storm is preparation, awareness, and taking the right actions at the right time.

After a Winter Storm

Once the storm has passed, your safety and the well-being of your family remain paramount. The aftermath of a winter storm can present numerous challenges, from potential damage to your home to the emotional stress that such events often bring. Here are key measures to take after a winter storm to ensure your safety and emotional health.

Safety Measures

After a winter storm, it is essential to assess the damage and take immediate steps to secure your home. Follow these guidelines to stay safe:

  • Inspect Your Home: Carefully examine your home for any structural damage. If you suspect any damage to gas, water, or electrical lines, contact professionals immediately.
  • Home Maintenance: Prioritize winter storm home maintenance, including checking your heating and plumbing systems for functionality. Pay attention to your furnace, boiler, and radiators to ensure they are in working order.
  • Avoid Driving: Stay off the roads until they have been cleared and deemed safe by local authorities. If you must drive, ensure your vehicle is well-prepared and that you follow the best safe driving practices.
  • Food Safety: Refrain from opening the fridge or freezer to keep food cold. Remember, a fridge can retain its temperature for about four hours, and a freezer for about 48 hours without power (CBS News).
  • Heat Conservation: If you’re experiencing a power outage, gather in one room with blankets and pillows, and block any drafts around doors and windows to conserve heat.

For a comprehensive list of safety measures, refer to our winter storm safety precautions.

Emotional Well-Being

The aftermath of a winter storm isn’t just about physical safety; it also pertains to your family’s emotional and financial recovery. Consider the following to maintain emotional well-being:

  • Stay Connected: Keep in touch with family, friends, or neighbors for support. Community can play a vital role in recovery.
  • Maintain Warmth: To keep morale high, ensure everyone stays warm. Move around occasionally to aid circulation, especially if you’re without a heat source (CBS News).
  • Limit Substance Use: Avoid consuming alcoholic or caffeinated beverages during this time as they can cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
  • Seek Resources: Use recovery guides and resources provided by organizations like the Red Cross to navigate the emotional and financial aspects of recovery.

By taking these steps and utilizing available resources, you can ensure that your family not only stays safe but also maintains emotional well-being in the wake of a winter storm. For further information on preparing for winter storms, visit our winter storm preparedness tips and winter storm emergency checklist.

Special Considerations

When confronting the wrath of a winter storm, being equipped with the right knowledge can make all the difference. Special considerations such as power outage safety and home and vehicle precautions are critical aspects to address to ensure you stay warm and secure.

Power Outage Safety

Power outages are a common consequence of severe winter storms. To ensure you and your family stay safe during these times, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

  • Gather in one room to conserve heat and utilize blankets and pillows to stay warm (CBS News).
  • Block any openings around doors and windows to retain heat.
  • Walk around periodically to keep circulation flowing and maintain warmth.
  • Keep generators at least 20 feet away from any window, door, or vent to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and avoid using stoves or ovens as heat sources (CBS News).
  • Turn water faucets on to a drip to prevent pipes from freezing, and keep cabinet doors open under sinks (CBS News).
  • Do not open the fridge or freezer to keep food cold. Food will stay good for about four hours in a fridge and about 48 hours in a freezer without power (CBS News).
  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they can cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.

For a full power outage safety checklist, refer to our winter storm emergency checklist and how to stay safe during a winter storm.

Home and Vehicle Precautions

Protecting your home and vehicle before and during a winter storm is equally important. Here are some measures you can take:



  • Keep your vehicle equipped with a blanket, gloves, dry snacks, water, a first aid kit, extra clothes, boots, a snow shovel, a snow brush and ice scraper, a jump pack, an air compressor, non-freezable beverages, medication, and wet wipes (Car and Driver).
  • Maintain at least half-tank of gas (or battery for electric vehicles), and run the engine for 20 minutes per hour to keep warm while conserving fuel or power (Car and Driver).
  • Insulate your vehicle’s cabin with towels, blankets, or any available material to cover gaps and create an extra barrier against the cold.
  • If you are stuck in your car, stay inside, use your resources wisely, and only leave if absolutely necessary.

For additional vehicle preparation tips, visit our articles on winter storm home maintenance and winter storm safety precautions.

By implementing these power outage safety measures and home and vehicle precautions, you can better protect yourself during a winter storm. Remember, preparation is key, and staying informed with updated winter storm preparedness tips can help you navigate the challenges of severe winter weather.

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