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Winter Weather Checklist: Do You Have What You Need?

The following winter weather preparedness checklists are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With winter weather predicted to affect our area this weekend use them as a reference as you make preparations

Est. Read Time: 4 mins

Note: The following winter weather preparedness checklists are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With winter weather predicted to affect our area this weekend use them as a reference as you make preparations.

Communication Checklist

  • Make sure you have at least one of the following in case there is a power failure:
    • Cell phone, portable charger and extra batteries.
    • Battery-powered radio, with extra batteries, for listening to local emergency instructions
      • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio receiver for listening to National Weather Service broadcasts. Learn more about NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.
  • Find out how your community warns the public about severe weather:
  • Listen to emergency broadcasts.
  • Make a Family Communication Plan. Your family may not be together during an extreme winter event, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do during an emergency.
  • Be sure to check on older neighbors and family members; assist them as necessary.
  • Know what winter storm warning terms mean:
    • Winter Weather Advisory: Expect winter weather conditions (e.g., accumulation of snow, freezing rain and sleet) that could cause severe inconvenience and life-threatening hazards.
    • Frost/Freeze Warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
    • Winter Storm Watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
    • Winter Storm Warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
    • Blizzard Warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
    • Other terms are available from NOAA.

Heating Checklist

  • Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following in case the power goes out:
    • Extra blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter coats
    • A fireplace with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace
    • Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters (check with your local fire department to make sure kerosene heaters are legal in your area).
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never allow children to be unattended near a space heater that is in use.
  • Keep portable heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Have the following safety equipment:
    • Chemical fire extinguisher
    • Smoke alarms in working order
    • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Never use an electric generator indoors, inside a garage or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not use a generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
  • Use individual, heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords to plug in other appliances.

Cooking and Lighting Checklist

  • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns.
  • Never use charcoal grills or portable gas camp stoves indoors, where deadly fumes can collect.
  • Avoid using candles as these can lead to house fires. If you do use candles, never leave lit candles unattended.

Food and Safety Checklist

Have a week’s worth of food and safety supplies on hand. If you live far from other people, have more supplies on hand. Make sure you have the following supplies:

  • Drinking water
  • Canned/ready-to-eat food (bread, crackers, dried fruits, etc.)
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Baby food and formula (if necessary)
  • Prescription drugs and other needed medicines
  • First-aid kit
  • Rock salt or calcium chloride to melt ice on walkways
  • Cat litter or sand for added traction on paved surfaces
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered lamps or lanterns

Water Checklist

Keep a supply of water on hand. Extreme cold can cause the water pipes in your home to freeze and potentially rupture.

  • In the event of extreme cold, leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
  • Keep the indoor temperature warm.
  • Allow heated air to flow around/near pipes. Open cabinet doors under the kitchen sink.
  • If your pipes do freeze, don’t try to thaw them with an open flame. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
  • If you cannot thaw your pipes, or if the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home.
  • Fill your bathtub with water or have bottled water on hand.
  • In an emergency, if no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.

Car and Emergency Checklist

Minimize your travel, but if travel is necessary keep the following in your vehicle:

  • Cell phone, portable charger and extra batterieswinter-ready
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Extra hats, coats and mittens
  • Blankets
  • Chains or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Brightly-colored flag or help signs
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit
  • Road maps
  • Compass
  • Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
  • Paper towels


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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