Winter Weather Preparedness

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Winter Weather Tips

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects. Never leave space heaters unattended.
  • Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and on each level of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them once a year at the same time every year.
  • In case of power outages, use flashlights instead of candles for light.
  • Use generators only outdoors and only in well ventilated areas. Information about generator and space heater safety is available from the ReadyVirginia.
  • Make sure outdoor pets have adequate shelter, unfrozen water and food.
  • If your household includes someone with special needs (has a disability, requires electricity to operate home medical equipment, needs to go to dialysis, etc.) register them with the Special Medical Needs Registry to let them know where you live and what you will need during an emergency.
  • Driving Tips
    Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F.
    • If the road is wet, patches of ice are possible, especially on bridges and curves.
    • Avoid using cruise control in winter weather conditions.
    • Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road.
    • Don't pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary. Treat these as you would emergency response vehicles.
    • Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your car: Bottles of water and food bars; bag of sand or kitty litter to provide traction under tires; hats, gloves and blankets; and cell phone charger.
  • For more on preparing for winter weather in Virginia, visit

Other sources of information

Disaster Supply Kit
Having a disaster supply kit is essential to making it through a disaster safely. Make sure to have supplies on hand to last each person at least three days. Download a printable "Get a Kit" worksheet from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to help you get ready for emergencies. [248kb PDF]

Put these essential items in your kit:

  • Food, at least a three-day supply of food that does not need electricity for storage or for preparation
  • Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Water, at least three gallons per person for drinking and sanitation
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio, a weather alerting radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Written family emergency plan [248 kb PDF]

Once you have the essentials you should add these items to your kit:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Prescription medications and eyewear
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter where you are
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities