Winter Weather Preparedness

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Tips to Stay Safe


Prepare Now for Approaching Winter Weather

The severe winter weather forecast to arrive in the area this Winter may hold the possibility of icy roads, downed power lines and snow drifts. Virginians need to prepare now by collecting emergency supplies, making a communication plan and listening for local information.

  • An emergency supply kit includes, among other things, essential items to last at least three days such as a battery-powered radio and extra batteries, food and water, flashlights, a first aid kit, blankets and medications.
  • Making a communication plan involves discussing the hazards and threats for your area and what your family would do during an actual emergency. As you create your plan, decide on a meeting place if your family cannot return home, designate an out-of-town friend or relative as a point-of-contact and plan for the specific needs of your household, such as an evacuation shelter for pets or transportation for medical equipment. Snow on Tree
  • Before, during and after a disaster, it is critical that you listen for the most local, up-to-date information from emergency officials. Local media will convey instructions from local, state and federal government partners, such as details about evacuation orders, how to safely stay where you are and when the emergency has passed.

Portable generators and kerosene heaters can pose serious health hazards if used improperly. Follow these guidelines to stay safe and warm:

  • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, operate generators outdoors only in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from home air intakes, and protected from direct exposure to rain.
  • Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages.
  • Keep heaters at least three feet away from furniture, blankets and other flammable objects. Never set the heater on a chair or table. It should sit only on an uncarpeted floor.
  • Never substitute one type of fuel for another.
  • Keep an eye on your heater at all times while it is running. Shut it off before you go to bed or when you leave the house. Never run a portable heater longer than the manufacturer recommends.
  • Wait for the heater to cool before refueling it. Kerosene has a low flash point and might cause a fire if it comes into contact with a hot surface.

Additional winter tips:

  • If your water supply comes from a well with an electric water pump, fill containers with water for drinking and cooking.
  • Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and one on every level of your home. Check the batteries monthly and replace them annually.
  • Make sure that outdoor pets have adequate shelter, unfrozen water and food.
  • Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F. If the road is wet, ice is likely, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses. Find current road conditions by calling 511 or visiting
  • Even when roads have been treated with salt and/or sand, drivers should reduce their speed and leave a safe driving distance between themselves and other vehicles on the road.