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It’s Time to Get Winter Ready

It’s that unpredictable time of year on Cape Cod when the weather could go from 55 degrees and sunny to a snowy nor’easter in a matter of days. Don’t be caught off guard—be prepared!

First and foremost, be sure to follow the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC) on social media (linked below) and visit our website for local updates and information. The BCREPC is a coalition of local law enforcement, fire service, health care, public health, public works, EMS, military, and numerous other affiliated agencies as outlined by the Massachusetts State Emergency Response Commission (SERC).  It represents the towns of Barnstable, Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Provincetown, Sandwich, Truro, Wellfleet, and Yarmouth in Barnstable County, and the town of Nantucket in Nantucket County. During a severe storm the BCREPC meets regularly for the duration of the event. We will keep you up to date on power outages, travel advisories, weather forecasting, sheltering, and more!

Below are some resources to help you and your family stay safe this winter season.

Understand the differences between weather alerts:

  • Watch: Weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather. If a watch is issued, then you should be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Warning: Severe weather is already occurring, or is likely to occur, and you should take immediate protective actions to stay safe. In the event of a winter storm warning, expect 6″ of snow or more in a 12-hour period (or 8″ of snow or more in a 24-hour period) within the next 12 to 36 hours.
    • Blizzard Warning: Sustained wind gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph AND considerable falling and/or blowing snow, resulting in reduced visibility of less than 1/4 mile for at least 3 hours.

Stay Informed!

Create and review your family emergency plan!

Develop a plan with the members of your household to prepare for what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate in an emergency. Be sure your plan addresses the special and/or medical needs for you and your family. 

Build a Kit! After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own foodwater and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Prepare your home!

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches around your home that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters to allow water to flow away from your home. Melting snow and ice can build up if gutters are clogged with debris.
  • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and have fresh batteries.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep cold air out. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
  • Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel and consider safe backup heating options such as fireplaces or woodstoves.
  • Have a generator? Make sure emergency generators or secondary heating systems are well ventilated because their fumes contain carbon monoxide. See more Generator Safety Tips.
  • If you are unable to afford your heating costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help!

Prepare your vehicle!

  • Make a winter emergency car kit! Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas.
  • Avoid driving during winter storms unless it is absolutely necessary. If you must travel, here are driving tips to keep you safe: Safe winter driving tips |

Prepare your pet!

When it comes to winter preparedness, don’t forget your pets. Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. Learn more at:

Learn More

Interested in learning more about preparing for weather emergencies and other types of hazards? Visit Disasters and Emergencies |