Winter Weather


PreparationHealth ConcernsAttire/Supplies


Winter weather is a concern to residents of Rutherford County. On average, Tennessee can experience a major winter weather event every five years, however it does not take a major storm to have concern of loosing life or property. Tennessee weather patterns historically show that ice storms caused by freezing rain is the major culprit to disrupt our lives in winter. The results can be devastating. Travel is dangerous, trees fall, power lines fail, communications capabilities are disrupted, and customers are left without power for days or even weeks at a time. It is important to stay aware of any impending storm activity and be prepared to survive its impact.




Preparing Your Family

  • Assemble a disaster supply kit. Store drinking water, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in the dark. Also include winter specific items such as rock salt, sand and other snow removal equipment.
  • Prepare for the possibility that you will need to stay in your home for several days after a winter storm. Make sure that you have sufficient heating fuel as well as emergency heating equipment in case electricity is cut off.
  • House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends and neighbors or employees.
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes and always refuel outside. Keep all heaters at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy, waterproof boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.

Preparing Your Car

  • Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair. Winterize your car by checking your car battery, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashers, exhaust, heater, brakes, defroster and tires. Ensure that your car has adequate antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and oil and check regularly throughout the season.
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, water, snack food, extra hats and mittens, blanket, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares and fluorescent distress flag.
  • If traveling by car during a winter weather advisory or winter storm watch, do so in daylight, don't travel alone, keep others informed of your schedule and route, and stay on main roads. Avoid driving during a winter storm warning or blizzard warning.

Preparing Your Home

  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic, insulate walls and attics, and apply caulk and weather-stripping to doors and windows.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to slow drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
  • Remove ice and snow from tree limbs, roof and other structures after the storm passes.

Extreme cold temperatures pose a substantial danger during the winter months.
Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, or even death.
Persons most susceptible to extreme cold are infants and the elderly.

Health Concerns


A severe reaction to cold exposure of the skin that can permanently damage fingers, toes, the nose, and ear lobes. Symptoms are loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance to the skin. If these symptoms are apparent, seek medical help immediately. If medical help is not immediately available, slowly re-warm the affected areas. If the victim is also showing signs of hypothermia, always warm the body core before the extremities.


(Low Body Temperature) is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95ºF. Symptoms include slow or slurred speech, incoherence, memory loss, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness, repeated stumbling, and apparent exhaustion. If these symptoms are detected, take the person's temperature. If below 95ºF, immediately seek medical help. If medical aid is not available, begin warming the person slowly. Always warm the body core/trunk first. If needed, use your own body heat to warm the victim. Get the person into dry clothing, and wrap them in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any hot beverage or food; warm broth is better. Do not warm extremities (arms and legs) first. This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure. Winter Deaths:

Everyone is potentially at risk with the actual threat depending upon individual situations. Recent winter death statistics in the United States indicate the following: Related to ice and snow: About 70% occur in automobiles; 25% are people caught out in the storm; and the majority are males over 40 years old. Related to exposure to cold: 50% are people over 60 years old; over 75% are males; and about 20% occur in the home.



Wear loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers (the trapped air between the layers insulates). Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat (half of body heat is lost through the top of the head). Cover the mouth with scarves to protect lungs from cold air. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Gloves allow your fingers to cool much faster than mittens do. Try to stay dry. Do not stay outside for extended periods!

Be aware!!
Cold weather puts a strain on your heart, even without exercise. Be careful when shoveling snow, pushing a car, or performing other tasks. Regardless of your age or physical condition, avoid overexertion in the winter.

The primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power, telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day.
Have Available:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable (AM-FM) radio to receive emergency information. These may be your links to the outside world.
  • Extra food and water. High energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
  • Extra supply of medicine and baby items.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm.
  • Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood or Coleman type stove, space heater, etc. Learn to use them properly to prevent a fire. Have proper ventilation.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector. Test units regularly to ensure they are working properly.
  • Emergency power supply such as a generator.

On the Farm

  • Move animals to sheltered areas.
  • Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
  • Have a water supply available. Most animal deaths in winter storms occur from dehydration.