10 Winter Safety Tips

Winter’s here! That means it’s time for snow, sleet, freezing rain, and extreme cold. Here are 10 tips to stay safe before, during, and after a winter storm.


  1. Make a family emergency plan. Know in advance how you will contact one another, where you will meet, and what you will do in case of an emergency. Write down phone numbers in case your cell phone isn’t working!

  2. Make an emergency kit. Have enough supplies for at least 3 days. Include essentials such as no-cook food, water (1 gal/person/day), first-aid supplies, flashlight with batteries, battery or crank-powered radio, cell phone charger, blankets, and important documents. Don’t forget about pets!

  3. Prepare your home. Make sure your home is well-insulated. Make sure you have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and a working fire extinguisher. Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

  4. Prepare your car. Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Have a mechanic check your vehicle to ensure it’s in good condition. Keep a snow brush and shovel in your vehicle, sand or non-clumping kitty litter for generating traction under wheels, maps, cell phone charger, and an emergency supply kit.

  5. Stay indoors during a storm. When using heat from a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater, observe fire safety precautions and ensure proper ventilation. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning device in an enclosed area. Eat regularly and stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

  6. Only travel if absolutely necessary. If you must leave your home, wear warm, loose-fitting layers. Tell someone your destination, route, and when you expect to arrive. Travel during the day and don’t travel alone. Make sure your phone is fully charged. Drive slowly and pull over if you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions.

  7. Stay in your vehicle if you become stranded. Make yourself visible to rescuers – tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling. Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat (make sure the exhaust pipe is clear and crack the window for ventilation). Do light exercises to keep up circulation. If you are in a group, sleep in shifts and huddle together for warmth.

  8. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Signs of frostbite include redness or pain in any skin area, white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. If you notice any of these symptoms, get out of the cold and seek medical attention immediately.

  9. Avoid flooded roads and heed road danger signs. Standing water hides many dangers including toxins, chemicals, and debris. Keep an eye out for black ice and potholes.

  10. Stay connected. If possible, listen to the radio, watch television and check reputable websites and social media sources for updated information. www.newtonma.gov


Adapted from www.nws.noaa.gov, www.redcross.org, and www.ready.gov. For additional information and resources, visit www.newtonma.gov/health 

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