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Receive Real-Time Alerts and Give the Gift of Preparedness

December 22, 2016

What Do Winter Weather Watches & Warnings Mean?

Snow Storm

Do you know the difference between a storm watch, warning, or advisory? It can mean all the difference in the time you have to prepare for the storm with at least three days of food, water and emergency supplies to stay at home and keep off the roads.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issueswatches, warnings and advisories for all winter weather hazards. Heres what they mean and what to do. Use the information below to make an informed decision on your risk and what actions to take.

  • Winter Storm Watch:Be Prepared. A watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or sleet or an ice storm, may affect your area, but where, when and how much is still uncertain. NWS issues a watch to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of possible severe winter weather. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time for you to prepare.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Take Action! NWS issues a warning when its scientists forecast 4 or more inches of snow or sleet in the next 12 hours, 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accumulation. Travel will become difficult or impossible in some situations. Delay your travel plans until conditions improve.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Be Aware. An advisory informs you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If you exercise caution, advisory situations shouldnt become life-threatening.
  • Blizzard Warninglets you know that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

Remember to listen to your local officials recommendations and to a NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the National Weather Service. Learn more by visiting the NWS Winter Storm Safety page.

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Give the Gift of Emergency Preparedness

Winter Emergency Kit

If you still need some last minute gift ideas, consider giving the gift of preparedness.

Help your friends and family members prepare for emergencies this holiday season with an item for their emergency kit.

Pick an emergency item from the lists below or find more ideas at

  • NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Hand-Crank Flashlight/Radio/Cell Phone Charger.
  • Cellphone Charger or External Battery Pack.
  • First-Aid Kit.
  • Manual Can Opener.
  • Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Alarm.
  • Fire Extinguisher.
  • Enrollment in a CPR or First-Aid Class.
  • Blanket.
  • Rain/Wet Weather Gear.

You might consider items for a roadside emergency, such as:

  • Jumper Cables.
  • Tools tire pressure gauge, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, shovel, ice scraper, etc.
  • Emergency Flares.

For those with pets, supplies for a pet emergency kit:

  • Pet First-Aid Kit.
  • Pet Carrier.
  • An extra leash or harness.

For information on how to give a fully stocked emergency preparedness kit, visit the Build A Kit page.

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Get Real-Time Alerts This Winter

FEMA App Graphic

One in three people dont know how to get real-time alerts and warnings ahead of a winter storm, according to the FEMA 2015 National Household Survey.

Review these tips and make sure youre alerted to critical information as soon as possible so you can take action to be safe.

  • Confirm your mobile device can receive Wireless Emergency Alerts.
  • Sign up for text and/or email alerts from your local jurisdiction.
  • Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio.
  • If you dont have a landline, check to see if your jurisdiction has options for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and mobile phones to be connected to Enhanced Telephone Notification (ETN) systems such as Reverse 911.
  • Sign up for listservs and alerts for the workplace, schools, houses of worship, or other community organizations youll want to hear from in an emergency.
  • Download relevant hazard alerts and warnings apps like the FEMA App.
  • Create a list of all the alert systems available to you, and make sure everyone in the household receives the alerts as part of your household communication system.

Find more information on how to receive timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events with Know Your Alerts and Warnings from Americas PrepareAthon!

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Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting

This email was sent to using GovDelivery, on behalf of FEMA U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC 20472 Powered by GovDelivery


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