Be Prepared—Before the Storm Strikes!! 

It is very important to be prepared in case a winter storm strikes, and everyone should create a plan for what you and your family will do in case of a storm.  Having your car fully checked and winterized, along with having supplies available if you are stranded for a period of time in your home or at work, are things that should be done before each winter season arrives.


At Work and Home

Be aware during significant winter storms impacts can be the loss of  power, heat or phone service that can last for several days.   Make sure you have enough supplies to last if the storm goes on for more than one day.

Make sure to have…

  • First aid supplies.
  • Flashlight, battery powered AM/FM or NOAA weather radio, and extra batteries.
  • Extra food and water.  Have high calorie foods that require no cooking or refrigeration.
  • Extra medicine and items to take care of infants and the elderly.
  • Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater.
  • Heating fuel.  Fuel carriers may not be able to reach you for days after a winter storm.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke alarm.
  • Shelter, food, and water for any pets.

On the Farm or Ranch

  • Move animals to sheltered areas.
  • Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
  • Have plenty of water available for the animals.

In Vehicles

  • Make sure to fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season.
  • Always check the latest weather reports and forecasts before heading out on the road. 
  • Plan out your trip and let someone know of your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
  • Avoid traveling alone.
  • Never let your gas tank get close to empty, to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.


Kits can include:

  • Compass and road maps
  • Mobile phone, charger, and batteries
  • Blankets/sleeping bags, and extra clothes
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • High calorie, nonperishable foods
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Water container
  • Sand or cat litter for traction and a shovel
  • Tool kit, knife, battery booster cables, and tow rope
  • Windshield scraper

When Caught in a Storm   

When a winter storm strikes, the best thing to do is take shelter inside of your home or another building and to avoid travel.  Unfortunately, there are times when this isn’t always possible.  Below are safety tips if you are inside, outside, or stranded in your vehicle during a winter storm. 

If inside

  • Stay inside!
  • When using an alternate heat source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater, make sure to use safeguards and properly ventilate.

If no heat is available

  • Close off rooms which are not needed.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors or around windows.
  • Cover the windows at night.
  • Be sure to eat and drink.  It is essential to prevent dehydration and to give your body energy to produce heat.

If caught outside

  • Find Shelter!
  • Try to stay dry.
  • Cover all exposed body parts.

If no shelter is available

  • Build a lean-to, windbreak, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
  • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.  Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
  • Melt snow for drinking water.

If caught inside a vehicle

  • Stay inside your vehicle!
  • Don’t panic!
  • Attempting to walk for help in a winter storm can be a deadly decision.
  • You could become quickly disorientated in wind-driven snow and cold.
  • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat, but be sure to open a window a bit for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
  • Occasionally, vigorously move your arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

Be visible to rescuers

  • Turn on the dome light at night when running the car.
  • Tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door.
  • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

For additional safety information visit to be informed and know what to do before, during and after a winter emergency. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.