New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Issues
Winter Weather Preparedness Precautions 

After Hurricane Sandy, Storm Preparation Should Be a Part of Everyday Life

TRENTON, N.J. – With the onset of winter, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Fire Safety urges residents to be mindful of potential winter weather hazards to come and to proactively prepare for them by following precautions recommended by local first responders. 

“As we continue to address the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, we know that the “new normal” for storms compels us to be prepared for the next one,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “Developing an individual, family and neighborhood strategy is critical to being ready for cold weather incidents.”

The Division of Fire Safety has compiled first-hand reports submitted by local firefighters and emergency managers following Hurricane Sandy, all of which emphasize that there are a number of things people should now make part of their storm preparation routine.

“Our experience with Hurricane Sandy and the after-action reports filed by frontline responders demonstrate that it is extremely important that our residents make storm preparation a part of everyday life,” said Acting Division of Fire Safety Director and Acting State Fire Marshal William Kramer, Jr. “Taking a few routine precautions now can make a make a world of difference when the next incident occurs.”

The Division encourages residents to review and save these common sense winter weather survival guidelines in an easy to reach place such as a smart phone or other digital device. For assistance in developing a winter weather plan, please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s for more information.


When an evacuation order is given, leave the area. “Riding out” a storm is no longer an option.


Maintaining access to information is vital and can be accomplished with these resources:

  • A battery-operated radio for the short term with extra batteries on hand.
  • A hand crank charger radio and a hand crank cell phone battery charger for longer duration events.
  • NOAA Weather Radio (
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter).
  • Text Messages (Sign up for emergency text messaging from your local OEM).
  • The National Weather Service Warning System, which includes the following alerts:
    • Winter Weather Advisory – Hazardous travel.
    • Wind Chill Warning – Typically for -18° or colder
    • Frost-Freeze Warning – Below freezing temperatures.
    • Winter Storm Watch – The storm is likely.
    • Winter Storm Warning – Take action because the storm is near.
    • Blizzard Warning – Take refuge and hunker down.
    • Ice Storm Warning – Ice accumulating on structure to over ¼” or more.

Food and Safety

Always keep basic food and safety supplies in an upper level “storm secure” location.

  • Bottled water
  • Canned and non-cook food
  • Hand can opener
  • Baby formula
  • Prescription medicine
  • Standard First Aid Kit
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
  • Rock Salt and cat litter (spread on cleared walkways)
  • Flashlights, glow sticks, and propane lanterns only. (avoid candles whenever possible)
  • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep warm.

Fresh Water

Water freezes at 32° Fahrenheit.

  • Extreme cold can freeze household water pipes.
  • Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep indoor temperatures warm. Use thermal shades for windows.
  • Allow air to circulate around pipes by opening doors under sinks.
  • Thaw any frozen pipe with a hair dryer. Never use an open flame.
  • In the extreme, snow and ice can be melted for drinking water. Boiling for a minute or so kills most harmful bacteria.


You may lose power and, as a consequence, your home heating system.

  • Power failures were epidemic during Hurricane Sandy. Assume power will be lost and have on hand a sensible heating alternative. Stay with neighbors if not.
  • Alternative heating sources come with their own set of hazards. Familiarize yourself with those by checking with your local fire department.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a common cold weather hazard as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety and ventilation precautions.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any partially-enclosed area.
  • Locate the heating unit away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If a carbon monoxide detector sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.


Your vehicle may be the key to your survival. Update the emergency kit in your vehicle with:

  • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Windshield Scraper
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Extra hats, socks, gloves/mittens
  • Blankets
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Tire Chains
  • Tire repair compressed air in a can sealant
  • Road salt and sand
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Reflective tape and send help signage
  • First Aid kit
  • Compass
  • Waterproof matches and container to capture snow melt for drinking water

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the state. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs. For more information about the Division of Fire Safety, log on to on the DCA website.