Prepare for the coming winter weather NOW!

A message from Kirby Felts, Albemarle County's Emergency Management Coordinator:

Our area is likely to experience winter weather Wednesday evening into Thursday, and people should take actions now to be ready for possible power outages and challenging road conditions. The forecast includes possible 8 to 14 inches of accumulating heavy, wet snow. With these types of conditions we encourage all citizens to gather and update emergency supplies and pay close attention to weather forecast.  We suggest citizens stay home and travel only when necessary. If you have medical needs that require electricity, double check your backup plans to make sure you are safe at home. Follow these safety tips for winter weather:

Be prepared at Home

Heavy snowfall and ice can isolate you in your home, sometimes for long periods of time. Your primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power, phone, and a shortage of supplies if the storm conditions continue for more than a day. Here are some tips to help out at home during severe winter weather
Have supplies at home to take care of yourself and your family for at least three days.
A three-day supply of food includes a gallon of water per person per day and food that does not require electricity to prepare it.
A battery powered and/or hand-crank radio and extra batteries will provide emergency information.  Be sure to listen to local stations for weather and emergency information.
Have flashlights and extra batteries on hand.  Don’t use candles when the power is out.
Stay inside where it is warm and dry.
If there is no heat, close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels, rags or extra clothes in cracks under doors, and cover windows at night to reduce heat loss.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing. Remove layers as needed to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
Get more details and an emergency supply checklist at or on the Ready Virginia mobile app.

Be prepared on the Road

Roads can become very hazardous very quickly.  Only travel if absolutely necessary, and if you do be prepared.
Plan your trip and know road conditions before you leave.  Road condition information is available 24/7 by calling 511 or going to  
Put emergency supplies in your car.  Use an old backpack or small container.  If you become stranded, you will need water and non-perishable food; blankets, hats and mittens; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a whistle to blow to get attention.  Other items to include are an ice scraper, can of deicer spray, jumper cables and road flares or a bright LED light that attaches to the vehicle, a bright colored cloth to use as a flag, hand wipes and paper towels, and a small first aid kit.  Add a bag of kitty litter or sand for extra weight in your vehicle and also to use for traction in case you get stuck.
Keep your gas tank full. This provides extra weight for traction and helps prevent ice from forming in your fuel line.
Even after roads have been treated with salt and/or sand, drivers should reduce speed and keep a safe driving distance from other vehicles on the road.
Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F.  If the road is wet, ice is likely, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses.
If you get stuck, stay in your car. The Virginia Department of Transportation recommends running the car engine for heat for 10 minutes and then turning off the engine for 20 minutes.

Emergency heat

If you use space heaters, plug them directly into wall sockets – don’t use extension cords.  Keep space heaters at least three feet from furniture, bedding and draperies.  Don’t leave space heaters unattended, and turn them off when you go to bed or leave your home.
Generators should always be run outside, in well-ventilated areas.  Follow manufacturer’s directions exactly. Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy.
Kerosene and propane heaters can cause fires if left unsupervised.  If you use one, use only the recommended fuel.  Always refuel outdoors safely away from your home.
Have your fireplace and wood stove chimneys inspected and cleaned.  These often build up creosote, which is the residue left behind by burning wood.  Creosote is flammable and must be professionally removed.