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Winter weather preparedness means more than just grabbing your coat

Categories: Natural Disasters

Tree damage from ice storm

The holiday season is fast approaching and so is the winter weather that comes with it. Old Man Winter has already been reeking havoc in the northeast leaving millions without power after “Snowtober.” So, while you’re pulling out your holiday decorations, why not also pull together some basic supplies incase Jack Frost comes knocking on your door.

For Your House

The weather outside might be frightful, but inside can be delightful if you’re willing to go the extra mile and weatherize your house. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your house is ready for anything this winter:

  • Insulate walls and attic
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside
  • Insulate any water lines that run along outer walls
  • Service snow-removal equipment
  • Have chimney and flu inspected if you are going to use a fireplace or wood-burning stove for heat
  • Install easy-to-read outdoor thermometer
  • Leave facetes dripping on especially cold nights to prevent pipes freezing (you can also leave cabinet doors open to allow for warm airflow)

When the big storm hits, it might take some time to dig out from under the mountain of snow left on your front step. Make sure you’re prepared to hunker down for a few days by stocking up on some emergency supplies. Consider having the following:

  • Battery-powered radio
  • NOAA weather radio for listening to National Weather Service
  • Drinking water
  • Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Baby food and formula (if necessary for baby)
  • Prescription drugs and other medicine
  • First-aid kit
  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered lamps or lanterns

road sign warning of ice and snowFor Your Car

Getting around in winter weather can be a challenge, and no one wants to be stuck on the side of the road when they could be at grandma’s house enjoying pumpkin pie. Make sure you can get where you’re going by checking the following:

  • Antifreeze
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Ignition
  • Emergency flashers
  • Exhaust
  • Tires (air pressure and wear)
  • Fuel
  • Oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Defroster
  • Battery
  • Radiator

Don’t get caught unprepared this winter. For more information, go to

Tell us what you think

Have you been a caught off guard by a winter storm? What’s in your winter car kit? Share your thoughts and tips by leaving a comment!

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. November 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm ET  -   john g

    Have extra blankets hat and gloves in vehicle. Maybe even a few bottles of drinking water if you are in rural area.

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  2. November 24, 2011 at 9:05 am ET  -   Julie

    Yes, for hours in a snowstorm on my way home from work. Always, always pack a blanket, flashlight, first aid kit, water and snacks in your car at the beginning of the winter season.

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  3. November 29, 2011 at 8:10 am ET  -   Alex

    Cricket Gloves can also be used :)

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  4. December 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm ET  -   Susan

    In areas that get a lot of snow, it’s good to keep a snow shovel in the car too. If you get stranded in your car during a storm, you may need to shovel snow away from your exhaust pipe or from around your car.

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  5. December 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm ET  -   Shannon Darr

    For the number of times I see people driving in the winter wearing their flip flops – prepare your car for a winter disaster:
    Pack everything you would need to wear in a winter storm – boots, good gloves (water resistant), fleece pants, HAT, jacket, sleeping bag
    Also include Crank up flashlight, non perishable snacks, water, handwarmers, extra glasses, small shovel, kitty litter.
    I recommend having a bag in the back of your car containing these items in addition to the car tools and make sure your teenage drivers know where these items are and have a healthy respect for the cold.

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  6. December 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm ET  -   Tom Staneley

    So often it is overlooked; but a good strong and sharp knife with a ¼ inch width blade as well as a selection of tools; including that bag of salt and winter clothing and blankets. Plastic bottles of water are the best, some in the trunk and some in the car – they will defrost first.
    Along with your regular supplies don’t forget the light sticks, matches, aspirins and that extra key;

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  7. December 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm ET  -   Scott

    Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector and that it has a working battery! Winter–when your furnace is in use–is the prime season for carbon monoxide poisoning.

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  8. December 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm ET  -   Jim S

    Some standard items I keep in my car when icy roads are imminent:
    Tow strap with hooks, kitty litter, heavy winter gloves (mittens), heavy duty ice scraper, flashlights, extra water-proof jacket with hood, reflectors, shoe covers, protein bars, FRS radio (2-way), extra batteries, extra charger or battery for my cell phone, and often a blanket and bottled water. Most of this stuff goes in with my spare and I never think about it until I need it. Also some wire and a pair of pliers has come in handy. When warranted, I also carry chains or at least cables. The kitty litter works on glare ice for better traction if you get stuck in a slick spot. In my experience if you need a shovel, then you need a tow truck.

    If you are stuck in a snow bank, a decent tow strap can get you out if a friendly person with a decent size truck stops. They often have chains, but sometimes all are in use on tires. Main thing is something to attach the tow strap to your tow points on your vehicle that won’t damage bumpers etc. It’s happened to me more than once, and without a pull-out, you could spend the night in bitter cold, so best to be ready.

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  9. December 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm ET  -   nanciezecco

    Be prepared for storms and power outages. Make a list of items needed for you home, business, car etc. Go over the list with your family etc. and have a plan in place in case a disaster takes place.

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  10. AUTHOR COMMENT May 4, 2012 at 9:45 am ET  -   Blog Administrator

    @Scott: Thanks for that very good tip!

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