When a Winter Storm Watch or Warning Is Issued
WHN TIP – Get the FEMA App: Download the free FEMA Alert App to get severe weather alerts, maps of disaster resources and other helpful information in case of natural disasters. Information is in English and Spanish and available for Apple, Android, and Blackberry mobile devices.
- Be safe, be smart
- Stay alert and inside. Continue listening to local radio or television stations or check for updates on your mobile device so you have the latest information and instructions. Wondering about winter warnings and alerts? Read Top 11 Winter Weather Advisories and Warnings has the info you need.
- Family members not home when the blizzard begins? Call them and have them give you the address and phone number of where they are. Make sure it is a warm, safe place.
- Grab extra blankets. Make sure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat and water-resistant boots.
- Grab flashlights and batteries in case of power failure. Avoid using candles if possible.
- Check your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and stock up and/or replace missing items.
- The Home Disaster Preparedness Kit form lists all items (food, water, emergency supplies, tools, clothing, sanitation items) you may need in case your pipes freeze or you are stranded inside.
- Depending on temperatures, add items like extra matches, extra blankets, a tin can and survival candles. You might lose power as result of the storm.
- Prepare the house:
- Shut and latch all doors and windows.
- Bring vehicles under a covering or inside a garage.
- Have a fireplace? Collect extra firewood in case there’s a power loss.
WHN TIP – Watch the Forecast: You might be snowed in for a few days. Stock up on extra canned food items, water and entertainment items: books, movies, games, etc.
During the Blizzard
- Be safe, be smart.
- Stay inside and continue listening to local radio or television stations or check for updates on your mobile device for information and instructions.
- Dress warmly. Wearing layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than one bulky sweater.
If Trapped Outdoors
- Be safe, be smart.
- Find a shelter out of the wind. Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of your body. If you can’t find shelter, prepare a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.
- Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
- You shouldn’t eat snow — it will lower your body temperature. Melt the snow first.
- Do not attempt to walk out of a winter storm. Disorientation comes quickly in blowing and drifting snow.
In a Car
Driving? For tips on black ice, winterizing your car and what to do before driving, read our article on winter driving.
Stranded? Be safe, be smart.
- Make sure you can access your car emergency kit from inside the car (it won’t do much good if you can’t open the trunk!). Keep it inside the car with you.
- Keep hats on — even in the car. You can a lot of your body heat through your head. Move around to stay warm but don’t overexert yourself.
- Huddle with other passengers and use extra coats as a blanket. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing — anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
- Police officers and rescue workers suggest that you stay with your car – it is dangerous to try to walk out of a winter storm.
- Attract attention with hazard lights and tie a red cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see. Set out a warning light or flares.
- Raise the hood to indicate trouble after snow stops falling.
- If you run your engine, make sure snow has not blocked the exhaust pipe otherwise gas fumes could build up to a toxic level. Check this from time to time.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Again, keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
Download the Red Cross Emergency app to monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.