WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Winter weather poses unique challenges to people faced with bitter cold, snow, ice and power outages. 

The American Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe if you are in the path of winter storms.

“Cold weather is here to stay, especially during the overnight hours,” said Brittney Rochell, regional communications director of the American Red Cross of Kansas and Oklahoma. “Whether facing power outages, trying to keep your home warm or having to be outside in the coldest hours, you can follow these steps to keep your home and family safe.”


Sudden power outages can be frustrating, troublesome and even dangerous. If a power outage is two hours of less, you need not be concerned about the loss of perishable foods. However, for prolonged outages, there are steps you can take to keep all members of your household safe and comfortable (More home power outage safety tips here):

  1. Preserve perishable food items with ice in the cooler or refrigerator. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers work well.
  2. Put together a home emergency preparedness kit: water (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable food (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home), flashlight, battery-powered or hand-cranked radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible), extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, cell phone chargers, important health documents, family emergency contact information and some extra cash.
  3. If someone at home is dependent on electric-powered life-sustaining equipment, remember to include back-up power in your evacuation plan.
  4. Keep your car’s gas tank full.


It’s that time of year when many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):

  1. All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  2. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  3. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. 
  4. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.


  1. Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  2. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  3. Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways

For more safety tips: American Red Cross of Oklahoma and American Red Cross Kansas

For other Red Cross Safety tips:

You can also download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.