Emergency Management - Winter Weather Survival

Winter Weather Survival

Winter Storms are common for this part of the United States. They can bring hazards such as blinding snow, freezing rain and ice, dangerous wind chills, power outages and travel disruptions. It's imperative that you prepare accordingly for these hazards to endure the cold of winter safely. The following recommendations may help you prepare for the winter weather season.

In your Home

Make an emergency kit for at least 3 days of self-sufficiency. Store in a cool, dry place in or near your shelter area. Replace expired items as necessary and update your home emergency kit annually.

  • Water - One gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food - at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food
  • Manually operated can opener
  • Radio - Battery powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight - Extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blankets and pillows
  • A basic tool kit (hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, wrench, etc)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation
  • Cell phone with chargers and backup battery pack
  • Essential Prescription Medication - At least a 3 day supply
  • Non-prescription medication - pain relievers, antacids, etc
  • Infant needs (if applicable) - diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, baby food, rash cream, etc.
  • Pet Needs - food, water, sanitary supplies to dispose of waste
  • Complete change of clothing for each person and sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities


Car Kit
With the harsh winter climate in Iowa, it is likely that at some point while traveling in your vehicle you may become stranded. There are other times when you may experience other types of emergencies also.The following list can help you prepare for such an event.

  • Battery powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
  • Blanket or Sleeping Bags
  • Booster Cables
  • Fire Extinguisher (5 pound, ABC type)
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Bottled water and non-perishable high energy foods such as granola bars, raisins and peanut butter.
  • Maps
  • Shovel
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Flares
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Extra hats, mittens, socks, etc.
  • Matches and small candles
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Tow chain/strap or rope
  • Road salt, sand or cat litter for traction
  • Flourescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter

Kit Tips

  • Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.
  • Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold.

911 tips:

  • If possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle and the problem you're experiencing.
  • Follow instructions: you may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
  • Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.
  • If you must leave the vehicle (for emergency purposes ONLY), write down your name, address, phone number and destination. Place the piece of paper inside the front windshield for someone to see.

Survival Tips:

  • Prepare your vehicle: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
  • If stuck: Tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you're with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
  • Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous, even deadly. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don't risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Fresh Air: It's better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.
  • Don't expect to be comfortable: You want to survive until you're found.






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