Denton campus during Uri.jpg
File photo from Winter Storm Uri, which hit Texas in February 2021.

'Tis the season: Plan ahead for winter weather

Whether you’re staying in Texas for your winter break or traveling, there are plenty of ways to stay prepared for the winter weather.

Winter storms bring freezing rain, high winds, extreme cold, snow, and ice and increase the likelihood of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks. Almost three-fourths of injuries during ice and snow conditions result from vehicle accidents, and about a quarter occur from individuals caught in snowstorms.

There are different terms such as watch, warning, and advisory that can indicate the threat level of the winter weather. The first way to stay prepared is to be informed:

  • A winter storm advisory is issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which can lead to life-threatening situations if caution is not exercised
  • A winter storm watch is usually issued 12 to 48 hours in advance and alerts to the possibility of heavy snow, freezing rain, or sleet
  • A winter storm warning is issued 12 to 24 hours in advance and means that heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring

These winter storm conditions can last from a few hours up to several days and can cut off heat and power. Older adults, children, immunocompromised individuals, and pets are at greater risk. Staying informed can help mitigate some risks associated with winter weather. The next-best-thing to do is keep a preparedness kit in the home and car.


Winter weather preparedness kits for homes:              

  • Flashlights
  • Phone/chargers
  • Food
  • Water
  • First aid kits
  • Medications
  • Sanitation items
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency heat sources – fireplaces, wood stoves, kerosene heaters (Know how to safely use whichever heating method you choose)
  • Heating fuel
  • Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms


Winter weather preparedness kits for cars:                  

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • Water
  • Extra clothing – including shoes
  • Waterproof matches
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for tire traction
  • Windshield scraper
  • Tool kit
  • Road maps
  • Emergency flares

These are just a few things that you may include a winter weather preparedness kit. Remember to consider the needs of pets, children, and the elderly. This kit can be built slowly over time; expiration dates should be checked every six months.


Cold-related emergencies

Exposure to the cold can lead to life-threatening circumstances. Infants and the elderly are the most at risk of cold-related emergencies like frostbite and hypothermia.

Frostbite – damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and white or pale extremities. Fingers, toes, ears, and noses are the most often affected.

Hypothermia – when body temperatures drop less than 95 degrees F. For those who survive, there will likely be lasting kidney, liver, and pancreas problems. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, and slurred speech.

There are various ways to prevent these cold-related emergencies. Cover the head and trunk with tightly woven fabrics. If clothes are wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible. Drink plenty of warm fluids and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Last, do not wear tight fitting clothes that may impair circulation.

Remember, being aware of the weather impacting your area is the first step in preparedness, followed by proactive measures to ensure that you’ll have the proper supplies in your home and car. If you are caught off guard by weather or feel unprepared, make sure to look for signs of cold-related emergencies. Contact Risk Management at 940-898-4001 or