Winter storm survival guide: Things to know before it snows

FILE - Residents dig out from a snow storm in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (AP File Photo/Steve Helber)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A big winter storm is coming for Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina this weekend. To be prepared, there are some things worth keeping in mind before you hunker down.

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First, have an emergency winter storm kit on hand at home. A basic kit could include the following items:

  • Water: One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Warm clothing like coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets
  • Family and emergency contact information

If you don’t already have one tucked away in your car, load up a winter preparedness kit full of essentials you’ll need to stay warm and safe.

Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.

State police, AAA offer winter weather driving tips

Freezing temperatures can mean more fire hazards in your home.

If you’re using an alternative heater (like a space or kerosene heater), remember the three feet rule: Keep it on a hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away — things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Make sure alternative heaters have tip switches, which are designed to automatically turn off the heater if they tip over.

Don’t refill a space heater while it’s on or when it’s still hot. Also, only refuel heaters outside your home.

Do not use your oven range to heat the home. It can start a fire, and it can emit toxic fumes.

Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing. Even if you plan on traveling this weekend, keep the heat on.

Find more heating safety tips here and get information about generator safety here. Closings and Delays | WAVY Weather Alerts

Bring pets inside during winter weather. It’s not just dangerous for animals, it’s illegal.

Virginia law says that pet owners need to provide adequate shelter for companion animals that is “suitable for the species, age, condition, size and type of each animal.” Law states that the shelter must have enough space for each animal, is safe and protects animals from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight and the adverse effects of heat or cold. Shelter must also be properly lighted, cleaned and it must have a solid surface (resting platform, pad, floormat, etc.) large enough for the animal to lie on.

Click here to read more about Virginia’s comprehensive animal care law.

It’s also a good idea to check outside water sources and remember that pets in the cold need more calories to keep warm. Find more tips on how to protect your pets from the cold from the Human Society here.

Last but not least, you should make a family communications plan. You may not be with your family when the storm hits, so it’s important to know how to get in touch with each other if need be.

Find tons of additional information about cold weather safety from the Red Cross here.

(Photo: Virginia Department of Emergency Management)
(Photo: Virginia Department of Emergency Management)

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