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How to Stay Safe in an Ice Storm

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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TIP: If your car becomes stuck, tie a bright cloth to your antenna so rescuers can see you.
  • Step 3: Fill up your car Keep your gas tank filled to avoid ice buildup in the tank and fuel lines.
  • 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.
  • TIP: Make sure someone knows your travel timetable and the route you’re planning to take.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TIP: Be especially cautious around cars; ice may prevent them from coming to a stop at intersections.
  • 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.
  • Step 8: Check on the neighbors Check on your neighbors, especially elderly ones. They are the most vulnerable during power outages.
  • FACT: Seventy percent of winter storm-related deaths involve a car.

You Will Need

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

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