Staying Safe This Winter
Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency, and Sharon E. Powell, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency
December 2012; reviewed October 2015 by Sharon E. Powell, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.
English | español
Winter is a time of playing in the snow and sipping hot cocoa. These months of unpredictable and sometimes dangerous weather is also a time that families should take extra care to keep safe. Knowing how to dress for snow and cold temperatures and staying safe while you travel will help ensure you enjoy these winter months.
Dressing for Wind Chill and Snow
Sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, and more — you can enjoy many healthy and fun outdoor winter activities. You will want to protect yourself and your family by dressing appropriately for the cold weather. You will also want to know how to prevent and respond to cold-related emergencies, like frostbite and hypothermia. Here are some resources to help:
Winter Safety Reminder — University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) Health — Tips for keeping infants and children warm, dressing for winter weather, and avoiding winter-related illness.
Cold Weather Safety for Older Adults — National Institute on Aging — Learn why you need to stay warm when it’s cold.
Staying Safe on the Go
Winter travel can be an adventure but also very dangerous. While traveling win the winter, a little preparation and precaution can help you avoid a dangerous situation.
- Get your vehicle winterized — checking tires, brakes, heating and fuel systems, battery, antifreeze levels, etc. — before the cold and snow arrives.
- Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you become stranded or face a different emergency. Ensure it includes items like water, non-perishable high calorie food (nuts, dried fruit, etc.), warm clothes and blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery powered radio, a shovel, a bag of sand, flares, first aid kit, and an ice scraper. Check your emergency kit before venturing out in poor conditions or longer trips and replace items as necessary. Include items like the following:
- non-perishable high calorie food (nuts, dried fruit)
- warm clothes and blankets
- flashlight with extra batteries
- battery powered radio
- bag of sand
- first aid kit
- ice scraper
Here are some additional resources that can help keep you safe on the go:
Winter Survival Kit — North Dakota State University Extension Service — Free Smartphone app that can be as critical as a physical winter survival kit if you find yourself stuck or stranded in severe winter weather conditions.
Winter Safety — National Weather Service — Tips for saying safe in a winter storm or in abnormally cold weather.
Winter Car Safety — Kansas Department of Health and Environment — Fact sheet on avoiding hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning when facing a winter car emergency.
Winter Weather Checklists — Center for Disease Control and Prevention — Checklists to help prepare and stay safe during the winter. Includes checklists for communication, heating, cooking and lighting, food and safety, water, and car and emergency. English | español
National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office. (2013). Winter Weather: Staying Safe.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment. (2014). Winter Car Safety.
Keep Your Home Safe and Warm During the Winter — Tips and resources to avoid winter fires, home damage, and more.
Winter Impacts — Resources for protecting your home and other property from winter damage.
Power Outage Checklist — American Red Cross — Checklist for preparing for a power outage, what to do during one, and what to do when the power comes back on.
A Guide to Food Storage for Emergencies — Utah State University Extension — Comprehensive guide for selecting food, storing food, and preparing food in light of a disaster.