Preparing for Winter Weather

A man in a wheelchair during a Vancouver Snowstorm

Winter Safety Tips

The winter storms are here and it is important to be prepared! Now is the time to prepare for winter travel, the cold weather, and storms. Individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are sometimes at higher risk as they may rely on others for care and support. State and Federal agencies have prepared information to help you and your family prepare for the winter season.

The DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration provides an emergency care provider bulletin to learn who is at risk, how to prepare and make a plan, and how to assess your emergency preparedness. This bulletin covers information for individuals with mobility needs, individuals with medical needs, and individuals with communication needs.

When preparing for winter storms it is important to know:

  • Storms can last a few hours to several days
  • Storms can knock out power, which can affect communication services.
  • Storms can knock out heat and power in your home.

Stay up to date on weather forecasts regularly and check your current emergency supplies. This includes your emergency food and water supply. Check the CDC’s guide to preparing food and water for emergencies.


When preparing to travel throughout the winter season it is important to prepare your vehicle. Create an emergency kit for your car and keep it stocked. It can be beneficial to take your car to a professional mechanic to check your heater/defroster, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers, and more.

This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Blankets
  • Map of your area
  • Ice scraper
  • Car cell phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or reflective triangles

Before traveling, make sure to check road conditions around your area and check any mountain passes you may be traveling through. Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition and keep your gas tank as full as you can. Read more on winter travel here.


When dealing with cold weather, it is important to know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

Make sure to follow CDC Guidelines for COVID-19.

Preparing your Home

Preparing your home is a great step for the winter weather. It is important to prepare for power outages as this can affect communication devices, lighting, appliances, and more.

With the cold weather, many people use a variety of methods to heat the home including space heaters and fireplaces. Make sure to follow safety guidelines on how to prevent house fires. Here are some fire safety *holiday tips for your home this season:

  • Turn off holiday lights at night or when leaving the house.
  • Replace any string lights with worn, broken, or loose bulbs.
  • If using a live Christmas tree, make sure to water daily.
  • Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (radiators, candles, heat vents, fireplaces, etc.)
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets.

(*Information from

Make sure to prepare your home for the cold weather by keeping blinds and curtains closed, closing unused rooms to avoid wasting heat, and keeping towels or rags in the cracks under doors to help keep rooms warm. If you are unable to keep your house warm or need to go to somewhere warmer, warming centers are available throughout the state:


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