Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Virginia Department of Emergency Management Encourages Preparation Ahead of Arctic Blast

(Photo by Gary Fultz on Unsplash)

RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) is encouraging preparation for the winter weather season ahead of an arctic blast that will impact the commonwealth beginning Thursday, Dec. 22.

VDEM warns while most think of winter storms as snow events, winter poses other threats, including extreme cold, freezing rain, ice, and high winds.

The department suggests the following list of actions residents can take to lessen the impacts of severe winter weather:

  • During a winter storm, stay off the roads as much as possible and only drive when absolutely necessary. Always give snowplows and responders the right of way.
  • If you must travel, know road conditions before you leave home. View the latest road and traffic conditions at or by calling 511 or viewing the 511 Virginia mobile app.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any other partially enclosed area.
  • Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Always avoid overexertion when shoveling.
  • When severe weather occurs, plan to check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives.
  • Protect yourself from Frostbite. Hands, feet, and face are the most commonly affected areas so wear a hat, mittens (which are warmer than gloves) and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
  • Keep dry. Change out of wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer or heavy clothing.
  • Prepare your home
    • Make sure your home is properly insulated
    • Check the weather stripping around your windows and doors
    • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe burst
    • Have additional heat sources on hand in case of a power outages
    • Keep a fire extinguisher accessible
    • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually
    • In the case of high winds, secure loose items around your property and trim any branches that could threaten your home
  • Prepare your car
    • Batteries lose power as temperatures drop, be sure to have yours tested
    • Check your car’s antifreeze level
    • Have your radiator system serviced
    • Replace your car’s windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mix
    • Proactively replace your car’s worn tires and wiper blades
    • To help with visibility, clean off your car entirely – including your trunk, roof, windows and headlights
  • Please heed warnings to avoid travel. If you absolutely have to be on the roadway, prepare your vehicle and have a kit for you and your passengers. This could include items such as:
    • Blankets
    • Drinking water and snacks for everyone in the car, including pets
    • Boots
    • Basic first-aid kit
    • Warm coat and insulating layers (sweatpants, gloves, hat, socks,)
    • Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
    • Basic set of tools
    • Car emergency warning devices such as road flares or reflectors
    • Ice scraper/snow brush
    • Jumper cables/jump pack
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Cash
    • Items for children such as diapers, baby wipes, toys, etc.
    • Flashlight, with extra batteries
    • Hand warmers
    • Paper map
    • Portable smartphone power bank
    • Extra medication
    • Garbage bags
    • Traction aid such as sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter
    • Tarp, raincoat and gloves
    • Shovel

To learn more about how to prepare for winter weather, visit View the latest road and traffic conditions at or by calling 511 or viewing the 511 Virginia mobile app.

VDEM encourages residents to follow trusted sources for information such as VDEM, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, National Weather Service, and your local government.

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