What is Your Plan for Winter?

Recent winters have brought numerous record-breaking snowstorms and extremely cold temperatures to Virginia. What should you do to get ready for winter weather? Are you prepared?

Page updated on Sep 10, 2018 at 12:33 PM

Here are important tips for protecting yourself and your home:

  • Have a family emergency plan, including a supply kit. If your family cannot return home because of severe weather or closed roads, you need to decide now on where you will meet to reunite. You also need an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family emergency contact. Learn more about making a plan for winter weather and all emergencies – and get a free family emergency plan worksheet – at www.vaemergency.gov. A few recommended items for your supply kit are as follows:
    • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
    • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
    • Flashlight
    • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
    • Multi-purpose tool
    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
    • Cell phone with chargers
    • Family and emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
    • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
    • Tools/supplies for securing your home\
    • Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
    • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
    • Ample alternate heating methods such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves
  • Get where you need to be before the weather gets bad: It’s always best to stay off roads during winter storms. Most traffic crashes happen within the first two hours after a storm starts. Get road conditions by calling 511 or visiting www.511Virginia.org.
  • Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full: A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • If you heat with a fireplace or wood stove: Have a professional check it, especially if it has been a long time since the last cleaning. Residue can build up and cause fires. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home and test it at least twice a year: Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide detector per household.
  • Safe use of space heaters: Never plug them into extension cords; plug into wall outlets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects and turn them off before going to bed.
  • Stay informed during power outages: Be sure you have a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio (and extra batteries). Get one with the NOAA Weather Radio band so you can hear winter weather reports directly from the National Weather Service as well as local radio stations. These radios are available at electronics, discount and sporting goods stores, and online from many retail outlets. Models are available for those with special needs.
  • Don’t use candles during power outages: Many home fires in winter are caused by candles.  Flashlights are much safer. Be sure to have plenty of extra batteries.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
  • For health-related tips during extreme cold, please review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Extreme Cold Prevention Guide. 
  • To learn more about slip, trips and fall prevention, visit this Health Department page.

To learn about the City’s Snow and Ice Control Plan, visit alexandriava.gov/Snow.