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Winter Weather

As a city in the Northeastern United States, Worcester is no stranger to adverse weather conditions. The Great Northeast Blizzard of 1978 killed 100 people and injured over 4,000 people in the Northeast. The 1997 April Fool's Day Blizzard dumped 33" of snow on Worcester in a 24-hour period. In 2008, Worcester and Central Massachusetts were walloped with a tremendous ice storm that produced wide-spread power outages and damage to many trees and tree limbs. Additionally, a storm on October 30, 2011 produced an unseasonably large amount of winter precipitation with wide-spread power outages and downed tree limbs.

Extreme cold can be devastating to the human body. During this time, your body will lose heat quickly, leaving you more susceptible for a number of health problems. It is important to take the temperature into account when creating your emergency preparedness plan.

When a Winter Storm Watch is Issued

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio and television stations for updates.
  • Stay informed and take heed to messages from the City of Worcester Emergency Alert Notification System, ALERTWorcester.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel.

When a Winter Storm Warning is Issued

  • Stay indoors during the storm and use safe heating sources.
  • If you must go outside, consider wearing several layers of lightweight clothing.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insullation or layers of newspaper and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Indoors, do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills, that produce carbon monoxide. Install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

Avoid Traveling By Car in a Storm, But if You Must...

  • Carry an Emergency Supply Kit in the trunk.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

How to Winterize Your Home

  • By caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows and the installation of storm windows or covering windows with plastic, you can increase the efficiency of your fuel and electric heat, lowering your bill.
  • Generators, snow blowers, grills and other equipment which produce carbon monoxide must be vented outside. Carbon Monoxide, a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas can be deadly if not properly vented from combustible engines outdoors in an open space.
  • Generators should be properly installed and vented. Please review our Generator Safety Tips (13KB).
  • By repairing roof leaks and installing additional insulation, you can also increase the efficiency of your fuel.
  • If you have a flat pitched roof, consider having the snow removed from the top of your roof to reduce the risk of roof collapse from the extra weight of the snow and ice. If you question the integrity of your structure, please refer to the City of Worcester Department of Inspectional Services.
  • Cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm. This and other forms of Mitigation can be found on our website.
  • Ensure your chimneys and stoves are safe and ready to be used before the start of every winter season.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic, and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. In the event of a pipe burst, learn to shut off water valves.
  • Do not overload circuits or electrical plugs.
  • Use space heaters responsibly.

To Properly Winterize Your Car, Consult a Mechanic

  • Assess the condition of your brakes and fluid levels.
  • Check the condition of your tires. During the winter driving months, it is important to have good tires on your vehicle.
  • Check for leaks and crimped pipes in your exhaust system and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • To prevent lines from freezing, assess the level of your antifreeze.
  • Maintain a level above half a tank of gas in your vehicle during winter months.
  • Be sure to check the condition of your battery.
  • Check oil for proper viscosity, pressure and weight. Heavier oil tends to congeal and not work as well in colder temperatures.
  • Maintain proper windshield wiper fluid levels and check the condition of your wipers.
  • Ensure that your defroster and heater work in your car.
  • Ensure that your hazard, low beam and high beam lights all work properly.

Place an Emergency Supply Kit in your Vehicle. Consider the Following Items

Battery Powered Radio Matches
Blanket(s) Necessary Medications
Emergency Flares Pocket Knife
Extra Hats, Socks & Mittens Road Salt & Sand
Extra Batteries Shovel
First Aid Kit Snack Food
Flashlight Tow Chair or Rope
Florescent Distress Flag Water
Jumper Cables Windshield Scraper/Broom

Additionally, more information on parking and plowing can be found on the Department of Public Works & Parks Winter Weather FAQs page.

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