Prepare before the winter weather arrives


Prepare yourself and vehicles

    • Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season.
    • Place a winter emergency kit in every vehicle that includes a shovel; a windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with pocket knife; necessary medications; blankets; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; fluorescent distress flag.
    • Make sure you’re signed up for CUSafe Alerts for main campus, or Alertus for Innovation Campuses. In addition, most counties have emergency notifications that you can sign up for.
    • Be Informed about Winter Weather Terms:
  • Warnings: Take Action!
        • Winter Storm Warning: A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
        • Frost/Freeze Warning: Below-freezing temperatures are expected.
        • Snow Squall Warning: New this Winter! Severe travel difficulties are expected. Intense short-lived burst of heavy snowfall with a quick reduction in visibilities and often accompanied by gusty winds. Short lived (30-60 minutes), and not issued when a Winter Storm Warning is already in effect.
  • Watches: Be Prepared
        • Winter Storm Watch: A winter storm is possible in your area, usually issued 24-36 hours in advance. Tune into your NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for more information.
  • Advisories: Be Aware
        • Winter Weather Advisory: Wintry weather is possible in your area, but does not yet meet the warning criteria. Exercise caution.
        • Freezing Rain Advisory: Issued when freezing rain or freezing drizzle is forecast but a significant accumulation is not expected. However, even small amounts of freezing rain or freezing drizzle may cause significant travel problems.
  • Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Black Ice: Sometimes called clear ice, refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface that is a virtually invisible hazard to motorists.
  • Wind Chill: A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind Chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin.

Prepare your home

    • Include winter supplies like shovels and rock salt in your household emergency kits.
    • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
  • During the cold winter months, local fire departments see an increase in the number of heating-related fires and fatalities due to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you lose electricity, know how to report the outage to your power utility and use extra caution when using open flames such as fireplaces and candles. Never use a portable generator indoors or without reading the instructions first. Never burn charcoal indoors. Do not use gas-powered cooking stoves as a heating source for bodily warmth.
  • Only use generators outside. Portable generators are commonly used as a result of storm-induced power outages. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and deadly. To prevent death, follow manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
    • Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional. If not, it can become filled with highly flammable layers of creosote.
    • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
    • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
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