BLOG: Winter is Coming

By: J.J. Abbott, Deputy Press Secretary

December 22, 2015

It’s true that we’ve had an unseasonably warm December, but that doesn’t mean that winter isn’t right around the corner. Today, the first day of winter, is a perfect time to prepare for future winter conditions like snowstorms and severe cold.

A number of state government agencies are here to help. Check out the tips below from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Health for tips on how to keep you and your family safe and healthy during the winter months that lie ahead.

Preparing Your Family for a Winter Emergency

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) offers many tips for Pennsylvanians on how best to handle a winter storm. Being prepared for a major winter storm can save your family both money and heartache. Here are some tips on how you can prepare:

  • Stock your pantry with enough food and water for you and your family for a minimum of three days.
  • Check and update your family’s emergency supply kit before winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather: Rock salt to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction, snow shovels and other snow removal equipment, alternate sources of heat (like firewood) and light (like flashlights and other battery powered lights), and adequate clothing and blankets to keep you and your family warm.
  • Make an emergency plan for you and your family.
Preparing Your Car for Adverse Road Conditions

PennDOT reminds motorists to prepare their vehicles for winter weather and to remember to check road conditions:

  • With many motorists traveling Pennsylvania highways this holiday and to prepare for the months ahead, drivers should have their vehicle serviced by a mechanic they trust.
    • A properly trained mechanic can check the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires and wiper blades to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly. Throughout the season, motorists should frequently check all fluid levels, lights and wiper blades.
  • Tires should also be checked often for the correct level of air pressure and adequate tire-tread depth to perform on ice and snow.
    • If you live in an area prone to heavy snow, drivers may want to consider using dedicated snow tires or carrying a set of tire chains. At a minimum, all-season tires should be rated for use in mud and snow.
  • An emergency kit should include items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families may have. Consider adding such items as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, or even children’s games.
  • Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting Learn more tips from PennDOT on winter operations and safety here.
Preparing Your Home for Cold Weather

The Department of Environmental protection encourages Pennsylvanians to stay safe and warm this winter by properly preparing their homes. Home winterization can help keep your home warmer, while using less energy and costing less money:

  • The most cost-effective way to save energy in the home is to air seal and insulate:
    • Be sure to air seal before insulating as insulation material will not block leaks.
    • Find and seal air leaks with caulk around windows, doors, gaps around chimneys, and recessed lights in insulated ceilings.
  • Consider these tips this winter to keep your home running efficiently:
    • Set back the thermostat when you’re not at home; each degree lowered can save up to 3 percent on heating.
    • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators regularly and make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
    • Weather-strip windows and exterior doors where you can feel air leaking.
    • Use the sunlight to heat your home by opening the curtains on south-facing windows during sunny days and close all curtains at night.
Preparing Your Family to Stay Healthy This Winter

The Department of Health provides resources and information to keep your family healthy during the winter and freezing temperatures:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Stay as warm as possible as exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause serious or life-threatening health problems.
    • Infants and older Pennsylvanians are at greater risk of serious cold-related health problems. They should be checked frequently to ensure they are warm enough during cold weather.
  • Prevent snow removal injuries, and if  you or your loved ones have chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of a heart attack while shoveling snow, call 911 immediately.
    • When possible, push snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, bend your legs and not your back. Also avoid twisting motions that can stress your back.
  • Never use an electric generator, camp stove, or similar device indoors, near windows, or vents since they produce carbon monoxide – an odorless, colorless gas that builds up in closed spaces and is deadly.


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