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Staying Safe During Severe Winter Weather

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Large sections of the United States are currently experiencing extreme cold, snow, ice and high winds. These winter storms can create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks from overexertion.  

Stay Safe During Winter Storms

  • If you are under a winter storm warning, find shelter right away. Bring your pets inside before the storm begins.
  • If possible, stay off roads and limit your time outdoors. If you need to go outside, wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack by taking breaks when shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle or walking in deep snow.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather and can result in painful and sometimes disabling injuries.

Stay Warm During a Power Outage

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning has unfortunately caused deaths during these extended power outages. Know how to stay safe and NEVER use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Follow a local station on a battery-powered radio for updated emergency information.
  • Close blinds or curtains to retain as much heat as possible. Close off unused rooms to avoid wasting heat, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater.
  • Eat regularly, as food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drink liquids such as warm broth or juice. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Check on neighbors who may need assistance — older adults, people with disabilities and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.

To learn more about conditions in your area, and to request help, check with your local officials.

  • Listen to state and local officials to learn more about storm warnings, road conditions and warming centers in your community.
  • Heed advice about mask wearing and social distancing in any warming center or other public shelter. If you go to a warming center or public shelter, be sure to take supplies to protect yourself and your family. Suggested supplies include hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and two face masks per person.
  • Residents in Texas can find the closest warming shelter online.
  • 2-1-1 can provide information about local resources and services. To find out if 2-1-1 services are available in your area or to search for resources, visit 211.org.

When severe winter weather strikes, we are ready to respond to meet the needs of state, local and tribal governments.

  • FEMA has approved several emergency declarations for states that have been affected by severe winter weather.
  • After recent emergency declarations for Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, we have moved water, blankets, shelf-stable meals, generators and fuel to help states respond to severe winter storms.
  • FEMA continues to coordinate with impacted state, local and tribal governments to address unmet needs created by severe winter weather.
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Last updated March 17, 2021