Get Healthy, Carson City: Winter preparedness

Close-up of car wheels rubber tires in deep winter snow. Transportation and safety concept.

Close-up of car wheels rubber tires in deep winter snow. Transportation and safety concept.

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Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us might not be ready for its arrival. During the winter, the weather has a habit of changing quite quickly. Winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous and cause real damage. It is important to plan ahead for Old Man Winter’s visit by preparing your home and cars. It is also important to be prepared for the unexpected power outages caused by winter weather. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you are more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures, and snow, start to fall.

Prepare your home:

Extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.

Cover pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.

Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.

Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

Check the ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow — or water if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly and ventilated to the outside.

Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.

If you do not have a working smoke detector, install one. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.

Install a carbon monoxide detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.

Learn symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

Build an emergency kit. Include a three-day supply of food that will not go bad, 3 gallons of water per person, a solar or hand crank radio, flashlight with extra batteries, blankets and warm clothes, a written list of phone numbers for people who can help you in an emergency, a seven-day supply of important medications and copies of important documents.

Prepare your car:

Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level.

Check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.

Check your oil level and weight. Heavier oils become more solid at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.

Make sure your windshield wipers are working. Replace worn out blades and use winter, low temperature windshield washer fluid.

Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. The kit should include: a portable cell phone charger, a shovel, blankets and warm clothes, food and water, jumper cables, tow chain or rope, a bag of sand or cat litter for traction, compass and maps, flashlight with extra batteries, solar-powered or hand crank radio, first aid kit and plastic bags.

Prepare to travel:

Be aware of current and forecasted weather conditions.

Avoid traveling when the weather service has issues advisories.

Inform a friend or relative of your planned travel route and expected time of arrival.

Prepare for a power outage:

Make a list of things you need that must have electricity. If these items can use batteries instead of electricity during a power outage, be sure to have the right batteries in your home.

Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged. Have a portable solar power charger or a backup battery charged for your phone during a power outage.

Have an emergency preparedness kit ready. Include flashlights with extra batteries, a three-day supply of food that will not go bad, blankets and 3 gallons of water for each member of your household (including your pets) per day.

If using electric medical devices or taking refrigerated medicine, talk to your doctor about a power outage plan. Ask how long medication can be stored at a higher temperature and ask for help with how to protect your medicines that are important for life.

Place a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer to monitor temperatures when the power returns. If the temperature goes above 40 degrees during the outage, throw the food out.

Sign up for local emergency alerts and weather alerts. If a storm is coming, prepare to lose power.

During times of winter weather, it is important to check on friends, family and neighbors. Young children, older adults and those with a chronic illness are more at risk from cold weather hazards. If you have pets, bring them inside if possible. If you cannot bring them inside, provide with a warm shelter and unfrozen water. No one can stop the onset of winter and with winter comes storms. By following these tips, you will be ready for winter.

Carson City Health and Human Services urges everyone to take an active role to be prepared for the winter months. For more information on preparing for winter, visit winter-weather. For additional resources and information about Department programs and services, check out our website at, follow us on Twitter at @CCHealthEd, “like” us on Facebook at, follow us Instagram at @gethealthycarsoncity, call us at 775-887-2190 or visit us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.


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