Public Health

Extreme Cold

Winter Safety

Planning and preparing can help you manage the impact of a winter storm and keep you and your family safe. Major winter storms can last several days, trapping people at home without utilities or other services.

Plan Ahead

Winterizing Your Home:

  1. Make your home energy efficient
    • Insulate: Insulation decreases the amount of heat entering from outside when it's hot, and traps warmth inside when it's cold. Insulation is rated by its R-value. R-value measures how well building insulation can prevent the flow of heat into and out of the home.
    • Types of Insulation:

      • Loose-fill & blown-in insulation
      • Batt & roll insulation
      • Reflective insulation & radiant barriers
      • Spray foam & foam in-place insulation
  2. Protecting your home
    • Caulk: Caulk is a common material for insulating windows, installed correctly can help save heat. Fill a caulking gun with silicone caulking. Apply caulk between the window frame and siding. Allow caulk to dry and cure overnight to ensure proper sealing.
    • Weather Stripping: Close small gaps between windows by cutting strips according to your window dimensions. Peel the adhesive off the strip and align the rubber down your window frame to cover any gaps.
    • Protecting your pipes: Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor hose bibs, water sprinkler lines, and pipes that run against exterior walls with little to no insulation can freeze and stop water supply to your home. Water has a unique property in which expands and freezes especially in pipes. Leaving pipes with a light trickle will help prevent freezing. Outdoor pipes can also be protected by covering them with foam pool noodles.
  3. Maintain Your Heat Equipment
    • Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements, and your equipment is cleaned and in working order. If using a kerosene heater make sure you have proper ventilation.
  4. Space Heaters
    • Only use electric space heathers with automatic shut-off switches. Keep any flammable materials away from the space heater. Always plus a space heater into the wall and never to a power strip. Never leave your space heater unattended unless it is completely turned off.
  5. Fireplaces
    • Make sure your fireplace is cleaned thoroughly and the dampers are checked. Vacuum and sweep any accumulated ash from the firebox. Ensure firewood is in good condition prior to placing into the fireplace. Ensure that your chimney is inspected annually for proper ventilation. If your fireplace that has a gas line, make sure that the gas is properly turned on and off when using. Always make sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby incase of an emergency.
  6. Smoke Detectors & CO alarms
    • Ensure that working smoke detectors are installed in your home. House fires can be reduced with proper preparation and installment of smoke detectors. CO alarms should also be installed. These alarms are designed to warn you of any unusual build-up of carbon monoxide in your home from a possible leak of CO producing appliances

Winterize Your Vehicle(s):

  1. Wiper Blades: What to look for to determine if you need new wiper blades.
    • Time: Wiper Blades will never last more than 12 months
    • In areas with extreme wind, heat, rain or snow blades last 3-6 months
    • Your blades are smearing, streaking or clicking when wiping the windshield.
    • Your blades have uneven edges and missing pieces.
    • Your blades have visible cracks.
  2. Tires: Inspect or Replace your Tires
    • Check if low air pressure and worn tires
    • Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times
    • Replaced tires every six years, regardless of use
    • Replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread.
    • Tread should be at least 1/16 of an inch or greater on all tires
  3. Safety Kit: Keep a safety kit in your car all year. Items to include in your winter safety kit include:
    1. Flashlight
    2. Blanket, leather gloves, and hat
    3. Bag of kitty litter or sand
    4. This can help if your tires get stuck in the snow or slush
    5. Ice scraper and brush
    6. Small shovel
    7. Safe and leak-proof container of coolant
    8. Snacks
  4. Driving in Snow/Ice/Sleet:
    1. Before
      • Plan ahead in case of road closures or detours
      • Ensure you have your vehicle safety kit in your vehicle
      • Ensure you have a full tank of gas before your trip in case of traffic
      • Ensure your cell phone is charged in case of an emergency.
      • Check the pressure on your tires
    2. During
      • Apply gas and breaks slowly to avoid skids
      • Reduce your speed to maintain better control of your car
      • Increase your following distance
      • Do not use cruise control while driving on slippery roads

Emergency Kits:

  1. Vehicle Emergency Kit:

    • Cell phone charger
    • Water, snacks
    • Flashlight
    • Boots, gloves, warm clothes
    • First aid kit
    • Blanket
    • Jumper cables
    • Shovel, ice scraper, snow brush
    • Flares
    • Full tank of gas
    • Tow rope
    • Tire chains or snow tires
    • Bag of sand or cat litter
  2. Home Emergency Kit:
    • Water supply for 3 days
    • Medical Supplies
    • Items for snow and Ice
    • Manual can opener
    • Non-perishable foods
    • Sanitation Items
    • Matches
    • Electric Space Heater
    • Flashlight
    • Battery-powered radio
    • Cell phone charger
    • Extra clothing, blankets and sleeping bags
    • Extra batteries and power sources
    • Alternate way to heat your home during a power failure

Stay Alert:

Be alert to changing weather conditions in your area with alerts, radio and other news outlets for information and new updates.

Local Resources: