November 09, 2022

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Visit CDC Emergency Preparedness & Response for more information.  

Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Colder Weather 

A book, a grey and white scarf, and white mug full of a steamy, hot drink are placed on a table facing a window that is showing a snowy landscape outside.

Winter is here for some parts of the country and winter storms can be dangerous. They can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. This can make being outside dangerous, so you should limit your time outside. Although staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce the risk of car crashes and falls on the ice, you may also face hazards inside your home. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you should know how to prepare your home and your car before a winter storm hits. 

Prepare Your Home and Car

Many people prefer to remain indoors during winter, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. If you are in an area prone to winter weather, be sure to create a communication and disaster plan for your family ahead of time. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm during the winter months.

Weatherproof your home.

  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows
  • Insulate any water lines, walls, and attic.
  • Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that may fall on your home.

Have your heating system checked each year.

  • Have your heating system serviced by a professional to make sure it is clean and working properly.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
  • Keep a dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby.
  • For older adults, keep an easy-to-read thermometer inside your home.

Bring your pets indoors.

  • 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.

Prepare your car and create an emergency car kit.

  • Service the radiator and maintain the antifreeze level.
  • Check the tread on your tires or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
  • Keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Use a winter-time formula in your windshield washer.

Stay Safe Indoors and Outdoors

A group of children dressed warmly outside; playing in the snow.

Protect yourself and your loved ones during a winter storm. Take extra steps to make sure you heat your home safely and follow the tips below.

  • Heat your home safely. If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be careful. Read manufacturer’s instruction and remember safety tips.
  • Light your home safely.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles, if possible. Candles can lead to house fires.
  • If you do use candles, never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Visit What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly for more information on power outage safety.

Use generators and other appliances safely.
  • Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
  • Generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door, or vent and in a space where rain and snow will not reach them.
Conserve heat.
  • Avoid unnecessarily opening doors or windows.
  • Close off unneeded rooms.
  • Close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.
Make sure babies and older adults stay warm.
  • Dress babies in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets, or sleep sacks.
  • Remove any pillows or other soft bedding. These can increase the risk of smothering and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Check on elderly friends and neighbors 65 and over to make sure their homes are heated properly.
  • All adults and children should dress warmly and stay dry wearing multiple layers of loose-fit clothing.
  • Keep a water supply.
  • Eat well-balanced meals and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia

Additional Resources

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329 

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800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: 888-232-6348