Every area in Colorado has the potential to be impacted by severe winter weather. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard that lasts for several days. Familiarize yourself with weather alerts and advisories to help you be prepared.
There are several measures you can take to be prepared. Read the information below to learn about what you can do during Colorado’s winter months.
Be familiar with winter storm watches and warnings.
Service snow removal equipment; have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways and kitty litter to generate temporary traction.
Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel as regular fuel sources may be cut off.
Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
Have safe emergency heating equipment available such as a fireplace with an ample supply of wood, or small, well-vented, wood, coal or camp stove with fuel.
Keep pipes from freezing by wrapping pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture, and letting faucets drip a little to avoid freezing - know how to shut off water valves.
Have disaster supplies on hand, in case the power goes out. Include a flashlight and extra batteries; portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; a first aid kit; a one-week supply of food (include items that do not require refrigeration or cooking in case the power is shut off); a manual can opener; one-week supply of essential prescription medications; extra blankets and sleeping bags.
Develop an emergency communication plan in case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school) and have a plan for getting back together.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family contact because after a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
Stay indoors and dress warmly.
Listen to the radio or television to get the latest information.
Bring pets / companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
Close off unused rooms to conserve heat.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
Dress warmly and wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.
If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. Also take frequent breaks.
Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
Keep dry and change wet clothing frequently to prevent loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.
Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia be wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Information courtesy the READYColorado project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security program known as the Denver Urban Areas Security Initiative.