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Winter Weather Preparedness

Punxsutawney Phil – the kindly groundhog who interrupts his hibernation every February to foretell the arrival of spring – has spoken.  In the cold morning light of February 2, he prophesized six more weeks of winter. Although the world’s most famous groundhog is known as much for his showmanship as his accuracy, the truth is that late winter weather can hit hard in Charlottesville.  This is an opportunity to prepare or refresh your winter emergency kit for your home and car, and consider winter-weather driving safety.  

Emergency Kits

It is always smart to have a home supply kit in case of unexpected power outages or treacherous roads that keep you home in winter. 

To hunker down, you should stock a three-day supply of these items:

  • Nonperishable food
  • At least one gallon of water per person per day
  • A battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries

Other items to consider in your kit are prescription medications and glasses, basic first aid kit, infant and pet food, sleeping bag, additional bedding, and chlorine bleach and medicine dropper.

Similarly, a kit of emergency supplies in your car may help you survive if you are stranded on the road. Emergency supplies for your vehicle include the following:

  • Shovel, broom, ice scraper
  • Road salt, sand
  • Warm Clothes and blankets
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency Flares
  • Basic First Aid Kit – include your medications
  • Non-perishable food such as canned food, energy bars and nuts
  • At least one gallon of water per person per day
  • Basic toolkit
  • Battery or hand-cranked radio

Winter Driving Tips

If you have to drive, make sure your kit is up to date and plan long trips carefully. Tell others of your route and expected arrival time if bad weather is forecast.  Keep your gas tank full.  Slow down and maintain extra distance from other vehicles.  Accelerate and decelerate slowly – it takes longer on snowy and icy roads.  Don’t come to a full stop if you can avoid it; it’s better to accelerate your car from a slow roll.

If you are stranded, stay in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.  Run the heat 10 minutes an hour to save battery power, and keep snow clear from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

You can avoid many dangerous weather problems by planning ahead.  Learn what to do before, during, and after snowstorms and extreme cold. Heed Punxsutawney Phil’s warning and have a safe rest of the winter!