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What Should You Do to Get Ready for Winter Weather?

Winters in Virginia can mean snow or subfreezing temperatures, as well as strong winds or even ice or heavy rain storms. Winter storms can bring loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. Get your emergency kit and supplies ready now, so you don’t have to scramble to beat an approaching storm; prepare to stay inside and make it on your own, at least for a period of time.

Here are important tips for protecting yourself and your home:

  • 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. Get road conditions by calling 511 or visiting If you must travel, take an emergency kit with you. 
  • 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. 
  • Safe use of space heaters: Never plug them into extension cords; plug into wall outlets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects, and turn off before going to bed. 
  • Stay informed during power outages. Be sure you have a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio (and extra batteries). Get one with the NOAA Weather Radio band so you can hear winter weather reports directly from the National Weather Service as well as local radio stations. These are available at electronics, discount and sporting goods stores, and online from many retail outlets. Models are available for those with special needs. 
  • Don’t use 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. 
  • Most importantly: You need a family emergency plan. If your family cannot return home because of severe weather or closed roads, you need to decide now on where you will meet to reunite. You also need an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family emergency contact. Learn more about making a plan for winter weather and all emergencies – and get a free family emergency plan worksheet – at

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