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Winter Safety

Health and Safety (with multi-language translations)

Winter Storms

  • Be a good neighbor - Check on elderly or special needs relatives, friends, and neighbors, to make sure they are keeping warm safely and have sufficient food and water.
  • Ensure all heating vents are clear of snow or other obstructions. Even if you don’t see significant snowfall blowing snow can block heating vents. Blocked vents can lead to Carbon Monoxide buildup in the home. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors now. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. CO poisoning can mimic flu-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Higher levels of exposure result in disorientation, drowsiness, and unconsciousness. If you experience any symptoms leave the home and contact help.
  • If you use a generator, ensure it is used outside, away from open windows, doors, or air intakes.  Exhaust from a generator or heating source can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide in the home, which can be deadly.
  • Take it easy while shoveling. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death during the winter.
  • Be prepared. Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable food.
  • See for more health safety information.

Power Outages

  • If you see a downed power line, leave it alone – always treat power lines as if they are live. A live wire can kill you.
  • If clearing trees or limbs make CERTAIN they are no in contact with a power line. It trees and branches can conduct electricity and electrocute you on contact.
  • Report outages to your power company.
  • Never run a generator indoors. Ensure it is outside – far away from windows or any other area from which exhaust can vent back into a living area. Carbon monoxide can cause injury or death.
  • Make sure your pipes are insulated. If your pipes freeze know where the water shut off is and never use a blow torch or other open flame to thaw the pipes out. A hair dryer is one safe way to take care of the problem.
  • More

Safe Heating

  • Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
  • Never use an “improvised” heat source like grill or oven as they can be fire or carbon monoxide hazards.
  • Make sure all heating vents are clear and properly discharging out of the house.
  • Make sure snow and ice is not impeding the venting of carbon monoxide and clear it away if it is.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source.


  • Check weather and road conditions before you leave.
  • Slow Down: Driving too fast on wintry roads is the leading cause of crashes.
  • Travel at a safe distance of at least 3 car lengths, leaving plenty of room to stop.
  • Clear all snow and ice from the vehicle prior to travel.
  • Be aware of black ice on what appears to be bare pavement.
  • If your car starts to skid, turn in the direction of the skid. It may seem counterintuitive at first but turning into the skid is your best chance to regain some traction. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm and continuous pressure. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, mimic that effect by pumping the brakes.
  • If your car doesn't make it to your destination, pull as far off the road as possible to minimize any further traffic hazards, and stay in the car if it is safe to do so. Even a short walk in winter storm conditions can be dangerous.
  • If you become stuck in deep snow, do not let your engine idle if your exhaust pipe is buried. Idling with a buried exhaust pipe could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Carry a cell phone and use 911 in case of an emergency, but do not become over dependent on a cell phone.
  • Properly prepare your vehicle for winter driving:
    • Winter tires.
    • Wipers and washer fluid.
    • Heaters and defrosters.
    • Properly adjusted brakes.
    • Ensure battery and charging system operate properly.
    • Carry tire chains for large trucks.
  • Be prepared - pack a winter car kit:
    • Jumper cables.
    • Two or more blankets.
    • Snow shovel and scraper.
    • Flashlight and extra batteries.
    • Extra clothing: cap, mittens, parka and overshoes or boots in case you have to walk for help.
    • High calorie, non-perishable food like candy and canned nuts.
    • Sand or strips of carpet for traction.
    • Extra windshield washer fluid and antifreeze.
    • Flares or reflectors.

General Preparedness

  • Ensure your home has a sufficient supply of whatever you use as “fuel” to heat your home.
  • Have extra items on hand in case you can’t leave your house for a while.
    • Flashlight
    • Batteries
    • Battery powered radio
    • Water
    • Non-perishable foods
    • More
  • Ask your town where the nearest warming shelter would be should it be needed. Vermont 2-1-1 has a list of shelters when there are shelters open.


Winter Weather Terms

  • Freezing rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads and walkways
  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground causing roads to freeze and become slippery
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Cold temperatures, ice and snow are expected
  • Winter Storm Watch: Severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two
  • Frost/Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected
  • Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon
  • Blizzard Warning: Heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill

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