Preparing for Winter Emergencies

Picture of By Sarah Warhaftig, CRM, JD
By Sarah Warhaftig, CRM, JD

Sarah Warhaftig is the Academic Director of Risk Management Programs for The National Alliance, where she is responsible for the Certified Risk Manager, Certified School Risk Manager, and the Certified Personal Risk Manager Designation Programs.

As winter storms start sweeping across the United States, it’s important to ensure that you and your loved ones are prepared for potential emergencies. 

Freezing temperatures and power outages pose serious risks, but by implementing personal risk management strategies, you can stay safe, warm, and well-equipped at home during these storms.

We’ve compiled a useful guide for consideration:

Invest in a gas generator: A gas generator with ample fuel can be a transformative solution during power outages, enabling you to preserve the cold temperature in your refrigerator and ensure warmth in a room or two. This simple investment can greatly enhance your comfort and safety during winter storms.

Stock up on batteries of various sizes: Many of our daily items rely on USB charging, which becomes impossible without power. Prepare by having a collection of batteries to power essential devices such as a flashlight and a weather radio. Additionally, ensure your mobile charger is fully charged, providing you with a lifeline for communication.

Have an alternative heat source: In case your primary heating system fails, it’s crucial to have a backup plan. Consider investing in a gas fireplace or a gas-powered heater that can provide warmth and a gathering place for your family.

Don’t forget the matches: Matches are invaluable during a power outage. Ensure you have an ample supply to ignite gas-powered items and light candles as the evening approaches. This simple preparation can provide both warmth and light when you need it most.

Stock up on necessary supplies: Make sure you have an adequate supply of prescription medicines and general toiletry items. During winter storms, it may be challenging to access medical facilities or purchase essential items, so preparedness is key to ensuring your well-being.


Preparing for Meals: Stock canned and dry goods that have a long shelf life. These nonperishable items can provide you with essential nutrients and calories that your body needs to survive during a prolonged emergency.


Prepare for water disruptions: In the event of frozen pipes or a power outage at the pumping station, water supplies may be shut off. It’s crucial to have a supply of water available, ideally one gallon per person per day. If you have a gas stove, you can also melt snow for non-consumable purposes.

Consider your pets: Don’t forget about your furry friends! Stock up on pet supplies such as food, litter, pee-pee pads, and treats to keep them comfortable during emergencies. 

Keep children entertained: When power outages render devices useless, it’s important to have alternative sources of entertainment. Consider stocking up on a variety of books, toys, jigsaw puzzles, or board games to keep children occupied and engaged during winter storms.

Remember, staying safe at home requires advance planning and preparation. Your primary risk management goal in critical situations should always be to protect human life. By considering these winter emergency tips, you’re taking proactive steps to mitigate potential risks and secure your well-being.

To further enhance your knowledge and preparedness, learn more about Disaster Preparedness and comprehensive risk management strategies in the CRM Control of Risk course.

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