How To: Be Safe in a Winter Storm


There are several feet of snow outside. You’ve lost power and heat, and your pipes are frozen. What do you do? Here are a few tips.

If The Lights Go Out

  1. Grab that flashlight from your disaster kit
  2. Call your utility company first to determine area repair schedules. Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate power has been restored.
  3. If you see downed power lines, do not touch them – assume they are live. Report the location of the downed power line to your utility company.
  4. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
    • DO NOT operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
    • DO NOT use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
    • DO NOT use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
    • Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
  5. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage.
    • Turn settings to the lowest possible temperature. This will allow your food to stay cold in a fridge for 24 hours and the freezer for 48.

Staying Warm Indoors

  1. Keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
  2. Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer's instructions. And make sure there is proper ventilation, because an otherwise safe situation could become dangerous.
  3. Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a hat.
  4. Have lots of blankets on hand.
  5. Eat well-balanced meals and keep hydrated. 
  6. Don't forget about your pets. Bring outdoor pets inside and if they can't be indoors make sure to provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

Protecting Water Pipes

  1. Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimizes the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.
  2. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
  3. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

Most importantly, stay inside! Winds, both before and after a blizzard, are cold enough to cause frostbite.  

Now that you're ready for the next storm, lend a hand to food pantries in need by donating some key items. GO


NY State Emergency Management Office Weather