Winters in Virginia often are cold, snowy and icy and bring extended power outages. To highlight the importance of Virginia families and businesses being winter-ready, the National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have set aside November 30 – December 6 as Winter Preparedness Week.
“We’ve had several record breaking winter storms in the past few years and they serve as good reminders that it’s smart to be prepared,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Everyone should take steps now to be sure families, homes and businesses are ready for whatever winter may bring us this season.”
Although the current National Weather Service winter outlook indicates Virginia could have a less severe winter than last season, people still need to be sure their emergency plans and supplies are in place.
Please click here to see the proclamation Governor McAuliffe issued.
“A significant winter storm is possible any winter in Virginia, even during those winters with overall temperatures near or above normal,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “If the El Nino weather pattern happens as expected, then Virginia residents should anticipate storminess and a wetter than normal winter overall. El Nino winters are generally not snowier, but they can be, if atmospheric conditions are right. A recent example of that is the 2009-10 winter.”
An important part of winter weather planning is being prepared to stay where you are until conditions improve. During Winter Preparedness Week, Virginians should take these steps:
Get a kit. Basic emergency supplies include:
- Three days’ food that doesn’t need refrigeration or electricity to prepare it
- Three days’ water (a gallon per person per day)
- A battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries
- Add a first aid kit, supply of prescription medications, blankets and warm clothing, supplies for special members of your household and pet items.
- For businesses and offices, some bottles of water and food bars and a radio to hear local information about whether or not it is safe to travel. Officials may advise staying in place until it is safe to travel.
- A power pack for recharging cell phones and other mobile devices
Make a plan. Everyone needs an emergency plan:
- Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be.
- Where will you meet up with family members if you can’t return home?
- Get an emergency plan worksheet at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or on the new Ready Virginia app.
Stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should:
- Listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials.
- Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions.
- Get where you need to go before the weather gets bad.
- Get road condition information 24/7 by calling 511 or checking www.511Virginia.org
Download the Ready Virginia app. This helpful emergency planning tool for iPhone® and Android™ mobile devices features:
- Location-specific weather watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service
- Disaster news from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management
- A customizable family emergency plan that can be easily shared
- A checklist for gathering emergency supplies
- Contact information for local emergency managers
- Links to register for local emergency alerts, and more
“One heavy snowstorm with power outages is enough to disrupt schedules and cause people to wish they had prepared better,” said Governor McAuliffe. “It’s much safer to take a little time now and get ready before a winter storm arrives.”
WINTER WEATHER SAFETY TIPS
- Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects. Never leave space heaters unattended. Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and on each level of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them once a year at the same time every year.
- In case of power outages, use flashlights instead of candles for light.
- Use generators only outdoors and only in well ventilated areas.
- Make sure outdoor pets have adequate shelter, unfrozen water and food.
- If your household includes someone with special needs (has a disability, requires electricity to operate home medical equipment, needs to go to dialysis, etc.) call your local emergency manager to let them know where you live and what you will need during an emergency.
- Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F. If the road is wet, patches of ice are possible, especially on bridges and curves. Avoid using cruise control in winter weather conditions.
- Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road.
- Don’t pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary. Treat these as you would emergency response vehicles.
- Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your car.