Winter Weather

Winter weather will be here before we know it. Stay safe by learning how to plan and take measures before severe weather arrives, and follow the proper steps both during and after winter storms.


What Should You Do to Get Ready for Winter Weather? 

Make sure you have an updated emergency kit.

Having an emergency supply kit is essential to making it through a severe weather disaster safely. Ensure you and your family are equipped with flashlights, a first aid kit, a 3-day supply of food and water, and more.

We’ve outlined a great list for you to start with, check it out here.

Make a plan.

Winter weather related emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning, so it is important to talk to your family about the hazards that could affect your area and to put a plan in place before severe weather hits. Establish meeting places, designate emergency contacts and record medical information to prepare for any emergency.

Learn more about making a plan for winter weather plus other emergencies – and get a free family emergency plan worksheet here. You can also download the VDEM Emergency Preparedness Handbook.

Stay Informed.

It is critical that you have the most local, up-to-date information available. Listen to local media for weather-related information and instructions from emergency officials. And in case the power goes out, get a battery operated radio with Weather Band so you can hear local stations and reports from the National Weather Service.

You can also download the for your mobile device. The app is free for iPhone® and Android™ devices, and provides robust emergency planning and instant notification of weather hazards.


How To Get Your Home Ready For Winter Weather 

Here are some important tips for protecting your family and home:

  • Thoroughly check and update your family’s emergency supply kit  before winter approaches. Include warm clothing and blankets.
  • 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. Also, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat.
  • Be safe when using generators and space heaters. Generators should not be placed indoors due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your generator is properly installed by a qualified electrician and placed outside away from air intakes. And never plug space heaters into extension cords; plug into wall outlets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects, and be sure to turn off before going to bed.
  • Avoid using 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 have pets:  Bring them inside. If they must stay outside, be sure they have shelter and insulation from the cold. Don’t use electric heating pads or any other heating appliances that can potentially burn your pet. Make sure your pet has enough food and unfrozen water; they may need more during cold temperatures.
Winter Weather
A resident shovels snow away from the entrance to his home in Union City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan, after the second-biggest winter storm in New York history, January 24, 2016. REUTERS/Rickey Rogers TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX23SDE

Avoid Traveling During Winter Weather

The safest place during a winter storm is indoors. Try to 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.

If you must drive during a winter storm: Make sure you know the road conditions before you leave.

  • Snow plows start on roads that carry the most traffic and then move to smaller roads. Try to stay off the road to give plows time and space to work.
  • Wait until daylight to drive so that sunlight can warm the roads.
  • Let someone know where you are going, what route you will take, and when you expect to arrive. This ensures that if something happens while you are traveling, someone knows where to send help.
  • Go to 511 Virginia or dial 511 to get real-time traffic information and road conditions. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also offers the latest road reports and closures, as well as winter travel safety tips .

It’s also important to make sure you fill your car’s gas tank in advance and keep an updated car emergency kit.

Tips for Surviving Winter Weather

Keep in mind that an important part of winter weather planning is being prepared to stay where you are until conditions improve. To be ready, take these steps:

Surving Winter Weather VDEM Ready Virginia

For more helpful winter weather planning and safety information, check out these resources:

  • Report Virginia road hazards or ask road-related questions, 24/7 to VDOT
  • Virginia 511 provides real time traffic updates and road conditions

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund