What to have on hand during a snowstorm

WASHINGTON – When snow is in the forecast, keep this information handy.

WTOP recommends you print it out ahead of the snow and any possible power outages.

Supplies to have on hand:

  • Portable radio. If you power goes out, radio will be your lifeline. Pre- set your radios to 103.5 FM. If you live in Virginia south of the Beltway you will also want to pre-set 107.7 FM. And if you live in Frederick, Maryland, pre-set your radio to 103.9 FM. 103.5 FM works just fine everywhere else. Listen to WTOP on the telephone. Call 202-380-9977.
  • Extra food. Consider some foods that do not require cooking or refrigeration.
  • Bottled water.
  • Prescription medicines. Fill any you may need ahead of time.
  • Extra baby supplies — diapers, formula, etc.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Extra blankets.
  • Backup heating supply, such as a generator, fireplace or space heater.
  • Snow shovel and ice scraper.

Around the house:

  • Charge your cellphone.
  • Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and flashlights.
  • If you heat your home with propane or fuel oil, make sure you have enough to last a few days.
  • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower.
  • If you use space heaters, keep them 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire, including furniture and bedding.
  • Refrain from calling 911 or other emergency services unless it is a true emergency or life-threatening condition.
  • Clear snow away from neighborhood fire hydrants.
  • Make sure you check on your neighbors who are senior citizens. Are they set with heat and food? Can you help them shovel out.
  • Make sure the account information on file with your electric utility is correct. Have the number to your utility handy, should the power go out.

Other home tips:

  • Don’t try to remove tree branches from a power line. Treat fallen wires as if they are energized.
  • If your home has a heat pump, clear the ice and snow away from the unit so air can circulate properly.
  • If the power goes out and you use a portable generator, always keep it outside – away from doors and windows – to prevent carbon monoxide fumes from coming inside.

Utilities – Electric and cable

WTOP has gathered a list of utility phone numbers.

Print the utility phone number list.

Power Companies


The phone numbers to the electric companies are available by texting POWER to 91035.

Driving in snow

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers these tips for driving in snow:

  • Make sure your gas tank is full.
  • Slow down in snowy and icy conditions.
  • Don’t drive in heavy snow, unless it’s completely necessary.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this trip really the wise thing to do?”
  • Dress warmly, in case you get stuck.
  • Carry a cellphone in case you break down.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • Before starting your car, make sure the tailpipe is free of snow.
  • Carry a snow emergency kit. (See what should be in it below.)
  • Use major routes that have been treated.
  • Slow down. Stopping distances are 10 times longer in heavy snow.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes.
  • Don’t pump the brakes if you have an anti-lock brake system.
  • Avoid changing lanes.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Don’t pass snowplows and spreaders. Make room for them.
  • Don’t spin your wheels. You’ll only dig in deeper.
  • Don’t panic during a skid. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

Print the driving tips.

Car emergency kit supplies

Make sure your car has an emergency kit. Here’s what AAA recommends you put in it:

  • Cellphone
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Drinking water
  • Extra clothes
  • Sand or cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Scraper/brush
  • Jumper cables
  • Tool kit
  • Flares or orange triangles
  • Knife
  • Towels
  • High calorie, non-perishable food

Print the emergency kit list.

Road condition information

Follow @WTOPTraffic on Twitter for up-to-the-minute traffic conditions.

Check local road conditions and traffic cameras at WTOP’s Custom Commute.

In Virginia, call 511 for road conditions or click here.

Maryland has a web page devoted to snow-related traffic information.

Proper Shoveling Techniques

  • Pace yourself. Take breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t eat or smoke before shoveling.
  • Shovel close to the body.
  • Bend your knees.
  • Lift with your legs.

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