Winter Weather Preparedness
Weather in Colorado can be unpredictable, and sudden changes in weather can quickly create dangerous situations. Broomfield residents are encouraged to prepare themselves, their homes and their vehicles for severe winter weather. This page will help you prepare and protect yourself from winter weather.
Emergency Notification Information on Winter Storms
LookoutAlert is the official emergency notification system of the regional collaborative that includes the City and County of Broomfield. Through LookoutAlert, emergency responders are able to provide emergency and public safety messages to residents. You can receive free emergency alerts via text message, email and/or voice message. Find out more about LookoutAlert and register on the LookoutAlert web page.
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
Plan and Prepare
- Keep pets indoors when possible
- If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pets. Don’t keep pets outdoors for long periods of time during very cold weather.
- Provide outdoor shelter for your pets
- If you have outdoor dogs make sure they have a dry, draft-free doghouse that:
- Is large enough for pets to sit and lie down in, but small enough to retain their body heat.
- Has a floor that is elevated a few inches off the ground and is covered with cedar shavings or straw.
- Has an entrance that faces away from heavy winds and is covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.
- Care for your pet’s feet
- Provide extra food and water
- Uses leashes when walking near water
- Don’t lock pets in cars
- Keep antifreeze out of reach of pets
The general advice is to winterize your car, including a battery check, antifreeze, oil level, windshield scraper and tires. Check the thermostat, ignition system, lights, hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, defroster, wipers and brakes. Snow tires are recommended, and chains may be required in certain conditions — especially in the mountains. Always keep your gas tank at least half full.
- Snowy or icy roads cause hazardous driving conditions. Before the first big storm, check your tires for tread, change your tires to snow tires or make certain you have chains in your vehicle.
- If you are stuck in your car, run the motor for 10 minutes each hour for heat. Make sure that your tailpipe is clear of snow. Make yourself visible to rescuers by turning on the dome light at night when running the engine, or by tying a brightly colored cloth to your antenna.
- Remember, 4-wheel drive does not mean your vehicle will not slide. Use caution and drive at slower speeds when roads are snow-packed and/or icy.
- If you do get stranded, do not leave your vehicle. Call 911 for assistance. Having some cat litter to put at the base of your tires may help you regain traction to get back on the road.
- For road conditions, call 303-639-1111 or visit the Winter Information page on www.cotrip.org.
- You’ll want to have a winter vehicle survival kit in case you get caught inside your vehicle during a snowstorm. Here’s a few of the items you’ll need for each person:
- blankets or sleeping bag
- rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks and winter hats
- plastic bags for sanitation
- non-perishable food items, such as dried fruit, nuts or energy bars
- bottles of water
- LED flashlights
- Extra batteries
- Check the CDOT Winter Driving Preparedness page for more details on essential and secondary items to have in your vehicle survival kit
You should winterize your home as well. Follow these tips to get a good start.
- Cold temperatures can freeze pipes, sometimes causing them to burst. Insulate pipes in crawl spaces and be certain to blow out pipes for outdoor hoses. To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspaper, then cover with plastic to keep out moisture.
- Locate water valves and know how to shut them off, if necessary.
- If you use a wood-burning stove for heat, be certain you have the chimney cleaned and checked for obstructions before using it.
- Insulate walls and attic.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
- Have extra blankets and alternate heat sources available at your residence in the case of a long power outage. Small outdoor generators can power a space heater for a few hours. Wood-burning stoves/ fireplaces are also excellent sources for heat. Be sure to have extra firewood and/or pellets for your stove.
- Stock up on non-perishable foods and water in case you do get snowed-in at your residence for an extended period.
- Service snow removal equipment and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways and sand or kitty litter to generate temporary traction.
- Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit — also known as a 72-hour kit — with items you may need if advised to evacuate.
Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or trash containers. You can purchase one of these kits if that is easier for you, but think about having a separate bag/pack/container for each person. Keep each kit in a place where it will be easy to locate at a moment’s notice. Some items you might consider for your kit:
- baby supplies
- batteries for hearing aids
- battery-powered radio
- disinfecting wipes
- emergency candles
- extra clothing
- extra batteries
- hand sanitizer
- non-perishable food (energy bars, canned meats, juice, fruits and vegetables, powdered milk, infant foods, crackers, peanut butter, freeze-dried and dehydrated goods)
- personal toiletries
- sleeping bags and blankets (wool or thermal)
- water (one gallon/person/day)
During a Snowstorm
Stay safe during a snowstorm. Try to get indoors as quickly as possible, but know what you need to do if you are outdoors.
- In case of a blizzard, do not leave your residence unnecessarily, especially if conditions are particularly hazardous.
- Stay inside.
- If you are using alternative heat, follow fire safety guidelines and ensure proper ventilation.
- Space heaters, especially ones with open heating elements, can cause house fires, so be certain to turn off space heaters before leaving your residence.
- Close off any unused rooms.
- Put towels at the base of doors to keep out any excess cold air.
- Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids to provide energy and stay hydrated.
- Find shelter. If none is available, build a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.
- Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat. Keep extra wood as dry as possible.
- Eating snow for hydration will cause your body temperature to drop; melt it first.
- Exercise periodically by energetically moving legs, arms, fingers and toes to increase circulation and body temperature.
- Don’t wear cotton clothing while exploring the outdoors as cotton doesn’t dry and will decrease body temperature. Other synthetics will help keep your body temperature warm.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air and avoid speaking unnecessarily.
- Be attentive to signs of dehydration and drink plenty of fluids if you have them.
- Watch for signs of frostbite, such as loss of feeling and a pale appearance in fingers, toes, nose and earlobes. If these signs are present, seek immediate medical attention.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, slow or slurred speech, exhaustion and stumbling. If these are detected, get to a warm location, remove wet clothing and drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
After a Snowstorm
You may want to check on any neighbors that might need assistance, such as the elderly, people with infants or those with special needs. To avoid damage, you should remove ice and snow from tree limbs, roofs and other structures, if it is safe to do so.
When shoveling snow, avoid overexertion. Colder temperatures add strain to the heart and can make strenuous activity feel less tiring.
Here are a few tips to keep you safe while shoveling snow:
- Dress warm, but not too warm. It is important to stay warm to avoid frostbite and hyperthermia, but being too warm can be hazardous as well. It is common to sweat while being active even if it is very cold outside. Sweating will cause the body to chill, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Dress in layers so that garments can be removed as the intensity of the activity increases.
- Use proper technique. Start each movement by bending at the knees, like you are about to sit into a chair. Keep your back straight and engage the core (this feels like “sucking it in”). Stand up by using your legs to push you up rather than by trying to pull the snow up with your back. Alternate the side of the body the shovel is on to help keep your upper body balanced.
- Know your limits. Take your time and take breaks as you need them. If you feel any warning signs of a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately. Know that the Snow Pals program is here to connect residents who can use a helping hand with local volunteers who assist with snow shoveling in the winter. See the Broomfield Pals Program web page for more information and to apply for support.