How to Stay Safe in an Ice Storm

Freezing rain can wreak havoc for days. Make sure your loved ones are protected.


Up next in Hurricanes & Storms (12 videos)

Stay safe during severe storms and hurricanes with videos on assembling emergency kits, building storm shelters, and more.

You Will Need

  • A home survival kit
  • A car survival kit
  • A full gas tank
  • Defensive driving skills
  • Fire safety


  1. Step 1

    Have a survival kit

    Prepare a storm survival kit that includes flashlights and extra batteries; a battery-powered radio; water; foods that require no cooking or refrigeration; a manual can opener; first aid supplies; and a battery-operated cell phone charger.

  2. Step 2

    Prepare a car kit

    Prepare a survival kit for your car that includes all the items in step one, plus flares, blankets, warm clothes, sand or kitty litter, a small can and waterproof matches for melting snow, and a shovel.

  3. If your car becomes stuck, tie a bright cloth to your antenna so rescuers can see you.

  4. Step 3

    Fill up your car

    Keep your gas tank filled to avoid ice buildup in the tank and fuel lines.

  5. Step 4

    Avoid driving

    Don’t drive. If you must get in the car, go slowly and keep your distance from others. SUVs with four-wheel drive might drive well on ice, but they cannot stop better than any other car.

  6. Make sure someone knows your travel timetable and the route you’re planning to take.

  7. Step 5

    Stay with your car

    If you get stranded in your car, stay put. Run the motor 10 minutes every hour; if it’s dark out, turn on the interior lights as the engine runs so rescuers can spot you. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by keeping the windows open a crack and making sure the exhaust pipe is clear. Move your limbs occasionally to keep your blood circulating.

  8. Step 6

    Walk with caution

    If you are outside, walk slowly, taking short steps. Stay away from utility poles and downed power lines, and avoid walking under trees; ice can cause branches to break off.

  9. Be especially cautious around cars; ice may prevent them from coming to a stop at intersections.

  10. Step 7

    Watch for fire hazards

    Beware of common fire hazards: Don’t use an outdoor grill inside, and if you’re using space heaters, keep them away from anything flammable. Never leave a candle unattended. Place fireplace ashes in outdoor covered metal cans.

  11. Step 8

    Check on the neighbors

    Check on your neighbors, especially elderly ones. They are the most vulnerable during power outages.

  12. Seventy percent of winter storm-related deaths involve a car.