Winter Weather Awareness Week runs from Oct. 29-Nov. 4
Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health
Anyone who has experienced a Western New York winter knows that fierce frosts and wicked winds can make travel and outdoor conditions dangerous. With snow in the forecast, now is the time to get serious about winter preparedness for your home, vehicle, workplace and neighborhood.
Collect Your Supplies
When ice and wind knock out power, and snow makes outdoor travel dangerous, having an emergency kit can keep you and the people in your household safe and comfortable. There is no single way to build a perfect emergency kit, and thinking through the basics of what you would eat, water sources for drinking, hygiene and cleaning, and ways to stay warm should be at the top of the list. As you put those items into a box, bag, or easy-to-reach shelf, consider making another mini-kit to keep in your vehicle. The Erie County Office of Health Equity has a newsletter, “Let’s Get Ready for Winter,” at www.erie.gov/health-equity, with extensive recommendations.
The Ready.gov website also has detailed instructions and lists of what to keep in your emergency kit.
Prepare Your Space
Beyond basic tools like a sturdy snow shovel and ice scraper for your vehicle, think about your house or apartment’s power and water systems. Do you have pipes that could freeze? Do you know where your electric fuse box is? If you have a generator, is it in good working order, and do you have fuel for it? Take time now to insulate water pipes and know the basics of how your utilities work. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure you have appropriate fire extinguishers in your kitchen and other parts of your home.
Within your household, think about any specific medical or mobility needs for you and any pets or livestock. Take time now to talk to your doctor about alternatives if winter weather disrupts your ability to get prescription medications or to travel to life-saving treatments like dialysis. For people who rely on oxygen, what is your plan if the power goes out or if your supply runs low? Ask these questions now, before the snow starts to fly.
Build Your Circle of Care
Talk to family members, friends and neighbors about how you could approach winter weather emergencies together – what resources and skills you need, and what gaps you need to fill. Trainings like “stop the bleed,” basic first aid, hands-only CPR and winter preparedness give you skills to be the help until help arrives.
You can connect with others to stay safe and comfortable if the power goes out and roads are unsafe. Deputy County Executive Lisa Chimera and Live Well Erie shared a video on this topic; watch at https://bit.ly/ECCircleOfCare.
Stay Aware and Informed
Before, during and after a winter weather emergency, Erie County will share important updates on its website, social media, through local media and through the ReadyErie app. Download it for free for Android and Apple devices at erie.gov/readyerie.
Have an alternative way, like a battery-operated radio, to hear weather updates in case your power or internet service is interrupted. And make a habit of checking the weather forecast frequently, especially if you have travel planned. Our National Weather Service – Buffalo office partners are the definitive source for weather conditions and forecasts. It is also sharing great information about Winter Weather Awareness Week on its social media pages: https://www.facebook.com/NWSBuffalo.
√ Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH), winter: www.erie.gov/winter
√ Erie County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, ReadyErie: www.erie.gov/readyerie
√ ECDOH, Office of Health Equity, “Let’s Get Ready for Winter” newsletter: www.erie.gov/health-equity
√ NOAA – National Weather Service Buffalo, winter weather awareness: https://www.weather.gov/buf/winterawareness_2023
√ Live Well Erie: www.erie.gov/livewellerie