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Winter Weather Emergencies


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

Learn More

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.