Storm Season Safety: Keep Your Family Warm, Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather This Winter


With more snow and other storm impacts on the way, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) would like to remind Californians of important tips for preparing for colder weather.  

It’s important to know your area’s risk for this storm season. Extreme weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time. Exposure to cold temperatures for prolonged periods can lead to hypothermia and increased health risks. Before cold weather approaches, you can take steps now to ensure you have the right tools to ensure your home is safe from the elements for you and your family.  


It’s helpful to have these items on-hand to prepare your home and ensure your family is comfortable for a cold winter:  

  • Space heater 
  • Blankets 
  • Weatherstripping materials 
  • Battery-powered lighting 
  • Snow shovel 
  • Ice scraper 
  • Generator 
  • Activities and entertainment

Consider additional unique items your family may need. 



  • Keep extra blankets on hand. Blankets prevent us from shivering and a cozy way to stay warm if electricity is unavailable.  
  • Use space heaters to warm areas of your home. Always keep an eye on them around children or pets. 
  • Switch your ceiling fan rotation to clockwise during the winter. Operating your ceiling fan in a low setting will produce a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling to flow down. To change the rotation, find the switch at the base of the fan and switch it in the other direction. 
  • Properly insulate your windows and doors to prevent cold air from entering your home. Weatherstripping and caulking your home is the most effective way to keep the cold air out. You can also use tape, plastic wrap and towels to seal your windows and doors. Folded newspaper also helps seal door gaps. 


  • Clean your gutters. Make sure your gutters are clear. When gutters back up, they may overflow and cause damage and flooding to your home. 
  • Check your trees. Check for any branches or dead trees that could fall on your home, or a neighbor’s home, when winter storms arrive. 
  • Inspect your chimney and flue. Make sure your chimney and flue are clear of any buildup and safe to use before you start building fires for the season. Consider having them inspected by a professional. 
  • Make sure your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm are in good condition. As you begin to use heaters and fireplaces to keep your home warm, it’s important both detectors work properly. 
  • Protect your pipes from freezing. Pipes can freeze when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Insulate any exposed outdoor fixtures and keep your water hoses drained and stored in a garage or shed. Keep your cabinets opened to allow heated air to circulate the pipes and faucets dripping.  


As you prep your home for winter, make sure you know what to do in the event of a power outage. If you use a generator, only use it outdoors and at least 20 feet away from your home. Do not use a generator in rain or wet conditions. If a generator is unavailable, follow the tips below to help you and your family stay warm without electricity. 

  • Wear several layers of lightweight, warm clothing. Wear hats, mittens, slippers and blankets indoors. 
  • Close curtains and cover windows and doors with blankets for additional insulation. 
  • Never use charcoal or gas grills or propane heaters indoors. Odorless, invisible fumes from charcoal, gas, and propane can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Using these heaters indoors can also increase the risk of fire. 
  • If your home has a wood-burning or gas fireplace, you can use it carefully to stay warm if the power goes out during extreme cold weather. Follow your fireplace’s safety manual and use caution to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning or risk of home fire. Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. 
  • Sign up for a medical baseline program to receive assistance if you rely on power for certain medical needs. 
  • Keep board games and activities available to stay occupied indoors. 


Ensuring the members of your household know what to do during an emergency or extreme weather event is an important step in preparing for winter. These safety tips are helpful in any disaster: 

  • Sign up for free local emergency alerts so you know what to do. Stay informed and get alerts via cell phone, home phone, email, text message and, in some cases, TTY devices. 
  • Make a plan to protect your people and think about who you want to connect with during an emergency. Write down their names and contact information so you and your contacts can check in safe with them. 
  • Pack a Go Bag with the things you need, in case you must leave your home. That same Go Bag can be used as your Stay Kit in case you need to shelter in place. Essentials include cash, medication, cell phone charger, first aid kit and important documents. 
  • Check in on friends and neighbors who may need help during an emergency. Discuss needs with one another to ensure everyone gets through the disaster safely.