Before a winter storm strikes, you should have a communication and disaster plan.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Winter Weather Preparedness Week runs from December 6 – 12 in North Carolina. Governor Roy Cooper is encouraging all North Carolinians to plan and prepare now, before potentially dangerous winter weather arrives.
“All North Carolinians should be prepared for inclement weather throughout the year,” Governor Cooper said. “This year has shown us just how unpredictable North Carolina’s weather can be.”
Governor Cooper is also urging residents to monitor changing weather conditions by listening to local media, update their plans and supply kits, and pay close attention to winter weather watches, warnings and advisories.
- Winter Storm Watch is issued, when at least 3 inches of snow and/or ice accumulations of one-quarter inch or more within a 12 to 24 hour period are likely within the next 24 to 48 hours,
- Winter Storm Warning is issued when at least 3 inches of snow and/or ice accumulations of one-quarter inch or more are likely within the next 24 hours,
- Winter Weather Advisory is issued when 1 to 3 inches of snow or ice accumulations of less than one-quarter inch are expected within the next 24 hours, causing travel difficulties.
During the winter season, staying warm and safe can be a challenge. Winter storms can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, icy roads, and other serious problems.
Before a winter storm strikes, you should have a communication and disaster plan. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has made preparing for disasters and emergencies a little bit more complicated this year. But, everyone, especially those who are at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus, should prepare now for the effects a winter storm can have on personal and public health.
Here are some suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare your home before a winter storm hits.
- Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Insulate walls and attic.
- Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
- Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm.
Have your chimney or flue inspected each year.
- If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year.
- Ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector or find one online.
Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector.
- If you’ll be using a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
- Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside.
- Each winter season have your furnace system and vent checked by a qualified technician to ensure they are functioning properly.
For older adults, keep an easy-to-read thermometer inside your home.
- If you or a loved one are over 65 years old, place an easy-to-read thermometer in an indoor location where you will see it frequently.
- Our ability to feel a change in temperature decreases with age. Older adults are more susceptible to health problems caused by cold.
- Check the temperature of your home often during the winter months.
Create an emergency car kit.
- It is best to avoid traveling, but if travel is necessary, keep the following items in your car:
- Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
- Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets
- Windshield scraper
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Water and snack food
- First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife
- Tow chains or rope
- Tire chains
- Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
- Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice
- Booster cables with fully charged battery or jumper cables
- Hazard or other reflectors
- Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
- Road maps
- Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
Listen to weather forecasts, and check your supplies.
- Listen to weather forecasts regularly and check your emergency supplies, including your emergency food and water supply, whenever you are expecting a winter storm or extreme cold.
- Even though we can’t always predict extreme cold in advance, weather forecasts can sometimes give you several days of notice to prepare.
- If you have pets, bring them indoors.
- If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to unfrozen water.
- Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends. In addition, every fall, do the following:
- Have the radiator system serviced or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze as needed.
- Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
- Make sure the tires on your car have adequate tread and air pressure. Replace any worn tires and fill low tires with air to the proper pressure recommended for your car (typically between 30-35 psi).
- Keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Keep your car in good working order. Be sure to check the following: heater, defroster, brakes, brake fluid, ignition, emergency flashers, exhaust, oil, and battery.
For more information on how to prepare for winter storms and other hazards that affect North Carolina, visit the ReadyNC website.