What kinds of problems can severe winter weather cause?
Winter storms can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. Staying safe and warm can be a challenge. You may have to cope with problems such as
- Cold-related health problems, including frostbite and hypothermia
- Household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning from space heaters and fireplaces
- Unsafe driving conditions from icy roads
- Power failures and loss of communication
- Floods after the snow and ice melt
How can I prepare for a winter weather emergency?If there is a winter storm coming, there are things you can do to try to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
- Have a disaster plan which includes
- Making sure that you have important phone numbers, including for your health care providers, pharmacy, and veterinarian
- Having a communication plan for your family
- Knowing how to get reliable information during the storm
- Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing.
- Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power
- If you plan to use your fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year
- Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector
- If you have to travel, be sure you have an emergency car kit with some basic supplies like
- An ice scraper
- A shovel
- Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
- Water and snacks
- Extra warm clothing
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit with any necessary medicines and a pocket knife
- A battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries
- Emergency flares or distress flags
- Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Cold, Ice, and Snow Safety (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)
- Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
- Federal Emergency Management Agency Also in Spanish
- National Weather Service: Watch, Warning, Advisory Display (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Summary of Natural Hazard Statistics for 2017 in the United States (National Weather Service) - PDF
- Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging) - PDF
- Winter Storms and Extreme Cold (Department of Homeland Security)
- Winter Weather (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
- Winter Weather Checklists (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Winter Weather: Indoor Safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Winter Weather: Outdoor Safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Use of Facebook for civilian-led disaster response after a winter storm:...
- Article: Characterization of Carbon Monoxide Exposure During Hurricane Sandy and Subsequent Nor'easter.
- Article: Wilderness Medical Society Practice Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Avalanche...
- Winter Weather Emergencies -- see more articles