November 13, 2020

Winter Weather Preparedness Week is a reminder to prepare in advance for winter’s hazards

The fallen leaves on the lawn and morning frost on the windshield are reminders that winter – and the potential for heavy snowfall and ice storms – is right around the corner. To emphasize the importance of planning ahead, Nov. 16-20 has been designated as Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Missouri by the National Weather Service and the State Emergency Management Agency.

 “Avoiding non-essential travel during winter storms is one of the best ways to reduce the chance of becoming involved in a crash or becoming stranded,” State Emergency Management Acting Director Jim Remillard said. “It also allows snow removal crews to clear the roads and first responders to get to crashes faster.”

In 2019, there were 11,117 vehicle crashes in Missouri in which snow or ice was a factor, which resulted in almost 3,000 injuries and 58 deaths, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. In 2019 during a February snow storm, a 15-vehicle pileup of cars, trucks and semis on I-70 near Oak Grove caused 47 other vehicles to run off the road or be damaged, and resulted in one death and many more injuries. Even if not directly involved in a crash, being stranded for hours if an accident blocks the roadway is also a concern.

No one knows what the 2020-21 winter will bring, but now is the time to plan ahead. Missourians should consider these severe winter weather preparations and be ready to take appropriate action during inclement weather to keep their families safe:

  • Create a family emergency plan and an emergency kit. Emergency supplies should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit. When power outages are possible, charge cell phones and other devices in advance so you are able to communicate if power is lost.
  • Assemble a separate vehicle winter emergency kit. Include a blanket, radio with spare batteries, snacks or energy-type food, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, jumper cables, flares, shovel and sand or shingles to give tires traction.
  • Know the risks of exposure to cold temperatures. In 2019, 44 people died as a result of low body temperatures due to prolonged exposure to cold weather. Alcohol and drug misuse were a contributing factor for approximately one-third of these hypothermia deaths, with 68 percent of people between 21-64 years old. Protect against frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting clothing in several layers. Avoid alcohol, limit time spent outdoors in frigid temperatures and stay indoors, if possible.
  • Avoid driving whenever possible when conditions are poor. If travel is absolutely necessary, make sure an emergency kit is in the vehicle, that your gas tank is more than half full, cell phones are charged and emergency numbers are saved for fast dialing. Check on road conditions in advance on the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Traveler Info Map: If your vehicle breaks down or slides off the road, stay with your vehicle and call or wait for help.
  • Make sure alternate heat and power sources, such as fireplaces, woodstoves, kerosene heaters and generators function properly. These sources can be dangerous and must be maintained and operated. Keep the correct fuel for each source on hand in a safe location. Proper ventilation is essential. Properly install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. Only operate generators outdoors.
  • Remember space heaters are dangerous and potentially deadly when misused. Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually. These devices are supplemental heating sources and should be turned off when leaving a room or going to bed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from heating equipment. Never overload extension cords or electrical outlets. Spaces heaters should never be used in place of a primary heating system.

Find more winter weather information including safe winter driving techniques, avoiding injury when shoveling and other tips at

Always be aware of the latest weather forecast for your area and know the meaning of the terms NWS uses when issuing winter weather advisories:

  • Winter Storm Watch – Severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.
  • Winter Storm Warning – Severe winter weather is in the area or is imminent and could be life threatening.
  • Ice Storm Warning – Ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more are expected in your area.

Reporters may contact their local NWS office for interviews about Winter Weather Preparedness Week or for additional information:

St. Louis: (636) 441-8467                               
Kansas City: (816) 540-6021                          
Springfield: (417) 869-4491

Paducah, Ky.: (270) 744-6440

Memphis, Tenn: (901) 544-0401                               

Davenport, Iowa: (563) 388-0672


For more information, call 573-751-6294 or e-mail