Winter Weather Preparations

Avoiding frozen pipes graphic

This page contains general information for winter weather preparation. For information regarding emergency shelters and other cold weather resources, visit

Make Preparations

  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify winter weather.
  • Include adequate clothing and blankets in your Ready Kit to keep you warm.
  • Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Disconnect outdoor water hoses and cover outside water fixtures.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
  • Know where the main water shutoff valve is located in your house in case pipes do freeze.
  • Fully winterize your vehicle and keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Keep an extra Ready kit in the trunk of your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding an ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.

Make a Plan

  • Plan to stay inside and make it on your own, at least for a period of time.
  • If you have a wood burning fireplace, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat. Also, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Winter storms are often accompanied by power outages. Always exercise caution when using alternative light and heating sources.
  • Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles to prevent the risk of fire. Have plenty of extra batteries on-hand.
  • Never bring portable generators, camp stoves, and grills into your home; they should only be used outside at least 20 feet away from your home's windows, doors and vents to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • People who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.

 Stay Informed

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed of winter weather watches and warnings.
  • Monitor commercial radio, television, and the internet.
  • Keep in mind that during a severe winter storm it could be hours, or even days, before emergency personnel are able to reach you.