Safety Tips for a Winter Weather Emergency
Harsh weather conditions can make the winter season hazardous for families across the country, but not every danger is tied to road conditions. Develop an emergency preparedness plan for your family to better respond to winter weather emergencies both inside and away from the house
In Case of a Winter Emergency at Home
Basic home maintenance procedures such as replacing the furnace filter, having the HVAC system serviced, and insulating water pipes can prevent the majority of winter emergencies at home. Before an emergency arises, gather as a family to create your emergency plan:
- Pick two regrouping locations. The first should be a location outside the home but still on the property where families can go in case of a fire or gas leak. The second location should be a place off your actual property. This location will be used when family members were not home to begin with, such as during the school or work day.
- All family members should have emergency telephone numbers stored in their phones, including their parents' work numbers. Parents should also have the numbers for their children's schools saved in their phones.
- Family members should learn basic first aid. This includes CPR.
- Your home should be equipped with appropriate emergency supplies. These include non-perishable food, flashlights with extra batteries, battery-operated radio, bottled water, extra blankets, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher that has been properly serviced, and medicine supplies — including at least one week of prescription medications.
In Case of a Winter Emergency on the Road
Snowy or icy roads can make traveling across winter roadways difficult, resulting in spinouts or even rollovers. These conditions can be dangerous at any time, but they are particularly concerning at night and on seldom-traveled roads. Planning for safe winter travel is essential in any state, as research shows that most states record fatalities due to icy roads — even warm-weather states like Texas and California.
- Every vehicle should have a winter survival kit in its trunk. This kit should containing items like booster cables in case your battery dies, cat litter to place on the snow to provide traction, energy bars for protein, warm clothes and blankets since the car heater isn't on, extra batteries for your smartphone, a shovel to dig out snow around your tires, and a flashlight for when it gets dark.
- Have your car serviced by a certified mechanic before any cold weather trip. This mechanic will ensure all fluid levels are appropriate, the battery is strong, the tires have been rotated or replaced with all-season/all-terrain options, and the brakes defrost system work appropriately.
- Be a responsible driver. Travel at a speed appropriate for the road and weather conditions. Also, keep your gas tank at least half-full in order to prevent freezing.
These simple precautions can ensure that, even when winter's worst appears on the horizon, the driver and passengers will remain safe and cozy inside their vehicle.