Prepare Now for Severe Winter Weather
Severe winter weather can bring extended power outages and road closures for days or weeks at a time. Plan ahead to ensure you have enough for food, water, heat, medicine, and fuel. Whether you've lived in the mountains for years, or you are new to multi-day snowstorms, the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services is here to share steps you can take now. Keep your loved ones safe if homebound without power. Use the list below to prepare a Stay-Bag with enough supplies to last at least two weeks. Have out-of-town friends you can stay with? Consider whether to have a backup plan to travel to lower elevations or a sunnier location before the snow flies.
Be Aware of the Forecast & Understand Storm Terminology
Winter Storm Watch - BE PREPARED.
Hazardous winter weather may occur within 48 hours.
Winter Storm Warning - TAKE ACTION.
Hazardous weather is occurring or imminent.
Plan for Medical Devices & Your Health
If you use life-sustaining medical devices, or have a medical need for temperature control, please contact FREED. They may be able to offer backup power solutions. Supplies are limited. FREED also provides personal emergency preparedness planning assistance. Please contact FREED at: (530) 477-3333. Additionally, keep a first aid kit and at least a two weeks’ supply of prescription medication on hand.
Stock up on enough dry firewood to make it through the longest of winters. Without power, this may be your only heat source. If you are without a heat source when the power is out, keep sleeping bags, blankets, jackets, gloves, and hats on hand. If you have a generator that you rely on for heat, make sure to have an adequate supply of fuel. Have a plan in place for where you will go if your home becomes too cold. Visit a warming center, or stay with a friend or family.
Plan ahead by stocking up on additional light sources and batteries. Keep candles, flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns easily accessible.
Eat & Hydrate
Stock up on easy to prepare, SHELF STABLE foods and revisit your camping supplies. A camp stove can help you stay well-fed and comfortable during a long storm without power. Simple canned and dehydrated meals are excellent options for non-perishables. Keep fresh food in a cooler chilled with ice blocks or snow. Ensure you have enough water for drinking and cleaning.
Pro tips: freeze gallon jugs before the power goes out and place in your refrigerator and freezer to help your food last longer. Fill bathtubs with water before the power goes out so you have water for cleaning.
Fuel & Stock Up
Charging your vehicle or getting to the gas station in a storm may be impossible. Fuel up in the days leading up to the storm to ensure you can travel when roads clear. Stock up on extra fuel for tools like your generator, snow blower, and chainsaw. Ensure you have a snow shovel to keep walkways and driveways clear. Keep a snow brush and ice scraper in your vehicle to clear your windshield.
Consider where to park your vehicle. You may choose to park at the bottom of your driveway, or closer to the road, to get to town more easily.
Understand projected impacts to travel. It is common for trees or downed powerlines to block the roadway. Assume downed power lines are energized and dangerous. Staying home may be the safest thing to do. Travel only if you must. Make sure to bring what you need to survive if you get stuck, such as a first aid kit, emergency blankets, food, water, a shovel, tow straps, and gear to stay warm. Make sure your vehicle can handle the conditions; 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles may be required in icy, snowy conditions. Always carry chains.
Without power, communication may be most effective using simpler forms of technology like text messaging. Use a battery powered radio tuned to local stations to stay informed of conditions. Charge battery banks to keep devices, like cell phones and tablets, operable. Conserve power by placing your devices in airplane mode when not in use.
Look out for one another. Check on neighbors, family, and friends who may need an extra hand in harsher conditions. Your neighbors can be your greatest resource during a storm!
Line Up Necessities
Head into the storm with a full propane tank and use fuel sparingly. Heavy storm conditions will delay fuel deliveries. Line up snowplowing services in advance to ensure private driveways and roads remain accessible. For extensive, urgent storm damage cleanup, consider organizing with neighbors for coordinated tree debris removal. Keep the following vendor contacts on hand:
- Propane Service
- Emergency Tree Service
- Snow Plow
Know Best Practices for Generator Safety
Portable Generators: Generator must be started manually when power goes out.
- Before starting your generator, read and follow the manufacturer instructions.
- Ensure that the total electric load on the generator does not exceed the manufacturer's rating.
- Never run in an enclosed space and always direct exhaust away from your home. Carbon monoxide kills. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, get to fresh air immediately.
- Make sure extension cords are properly sized to carry electric load to avoid overheating.
- Before refueling, make sure generator is off and has had a chance to cool.
Permanent Generators: Generator automatically turns on when power goes out.
- Installation requires a licensed electric contractor and building permits.
- Install generator on high ground, where flooding is not likely to be a concern.
- Electrical transfer switches safely switch electrical load from your power provider to the generator.
- Prevent back-feeding lines by installing a "double-pole, double-throw transfer switch."
- Notify your local utility provider to let them know about your backup system.