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Winter Safety Could Save Lives

The approaching winter storm will bring hazardous conditions to Virginia, ranging from freezing rain and high winds to sleet, snow and ice.  Residents should take the time now to look at their specific needs and talk with their families and neighbors about what they would do in an emergency.

“Several Virginians have lost their lives due to winter weather this season, and we don’t want to lose any more,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  “It is very important that everyone follow basic winter weather safety instructions and stay aware of the current weather forecast for their area.”

Basic weather safety involves staying off the roads, dressing in layers, having emergency supplies ready and avoiding overexertion.


  • Once freezing rain or snow begins to fall, stay off the roads.  Only travel if absolutely necessary, and if you do, wear a seat belt. 
  • Know roads conditions before you leave.  Current road conditions are available by calling 5-1-1 or visiting  
  • Have emergency supplies in your car.  If you become stranded, you will need water, food, blankets, a radio, flashlight and extra batteries. Stay with your car.  The Virginia Department of Transportation recommends running the car engine for heat for 10 minutes and then turning off the engine for 20 minutes.  

Health concerns

  • Wear loose layers and a hat. 
  • Avoid overexertion during clean up, no matter your age or physical condition.  Shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.

Emergency heat

  • Generators should always be run outside, in well-ventilated areas.  Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy. 
  • Never use a portable generator in any enclosed or partially enclosed space. Windows and doors do not provide enough ventilation. 
  • Kerosene and propane heaters can cause fires if left unsupervised.  If you use one, use only the recommended fuel.  Always refuel outdoors safely away from your home. 
  • Keep an eye on your heater at all times while it is running. Shut it off before you go to bed or when you leave the house.

Emergency assistance
If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

If you are seeking assistance for an elderly or disabled person during the storm, need information on warming shelters in the area or concerned about an unsheltered individual or family at risk of hypothermia, please dial 2-1-1 or visit

When you dial 2-1-1, a trained professional will listen to your situation and suggest sources of help using one of the largest databases of health and human services in your community and statewide.  All referrals are confidential, and you can search for these same services on

Detailed safety information is available at

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