Official VOAD for Santa Clara County

Snow and wind with a grey background and text stating "Winter is here! Are you prepared?"

Prepare for Winter Weather

The winter season brings joy and reason for celebration; however, it can also bring danger. The winter months see increases in house fires due to candles, cooking, and holiday decorations, along with storms that can produce strong winds, heavy rain, and/snow. Winter storms can cause utility disruptions, flooding, landslides, and unsafe driving conditions. The cold weather that comes in the winter can lead to health problems, including hypothermia and frostbite and carbon monoxide poisoning from misuse of generators/stoves, and heart attacks from overexertion. Read below to learn how you can ensure you and your loved ones’ safety this winter.

1. Stay Informed

The best way to be prepared is to stay informed. Signup to receive local alerts at and be aware of your surroundings, especially when storm or flood alerts and warnings are issued. Use the Winter Weather Resources below to stay informed.

2. Make a Plan

Make an emergency plan with your household. Plan for how you will prepare for winter storms and the potential flooding, landslides, extreme cold, and power outages that may accompany them.  Learn more about disaster planning at

3. Prepare Supplies

Have supplies ready in the event you must evacuate or shelter in place. Think about what you’ll need to survive comfortably (i.e. food, water, clothes, important documents, hygiene items, portable chargers, flashlights, batteries, etc.). Learn more:

Image with a man, a blue sedan, and a black SUV. The image says: "Do you really know how deep the water is? 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock over and carry away an adult. 12 inches of fast-moving water can carry away a small car. 18-24 inches of fast-moving water can carry away most large SUVs, vans, and trucks." A yellow sign, saying "when flooded turn around don't drown". NOAA logo.

Flood Safety

Prepare your Property for Floods:

  • Clear storm drains and rain gutters of leaves and other debris.
  • Have items like shovels, boots, raincoats, and sandbags on hand. Visit Valley Water for free sandbags if flooding is projected, see the Resources below for more information
  • Store important documents and valuables in high locations, in waterproof containers and create password-protected digital copies of  documents.

Consider Getting Flood Insurance

Flooding isn’t typically covered under homeowner’s insurance. Flood insurance can cover damage caused by storms, tsunamis, mudflow, and flooding, including structural damage and associated cleanup costs; but a basic policy doesn’t usually cover building contents. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect so the time to buy is well before a disaster. Visit or call 1-888-4FLOODS for more information.


Stay safe during extreme cold

Avoid cold related injuries

Extreme cold can cause frostbite, injury to body tissue, and hypothermia, dangerously low body temperature. To avoid health problems related to extreme cold:

  • Dress in layers and stay dry (sweat can lead to hypothermia)
  • Eat regularly and stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Stretch before you go out and avoid overexertion.
  • What for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. If signs appear:
    • Seek medical assistance
    • Get to a warm place. If you don’t have one, review the local warming center tab in the resources below.
    • Remove any wet clothing.
    • Begin warming the person up slowly, starting with the trunk of the body

Avoid CO poisoning:

When winter temperatures plummet and home heating systems run for hours the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases. To avoid CO poisoning:

  • Check or change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris. Debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside.
  • Leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Run any gasoline-powered engine (vehicle, generator, etc.) less than 20 feet from open windows, doors, or vents or inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
  • Use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.

If you suspect CO poisoning, warn others and leave the area, opening windows and doors on your way out. Call 911 or a health care professional right away.

Safe Travel

The shadow of a vehicle in grey in the middle of the image with the text "Building an emergency supply kit for your car" above it, "WHY? Because you never know when you will encounter winter weather or an emergency road closure." inside the shadow, and "America's prepareAthon!" below it. Clipart and text of: cell phone and charger, first aid kit, jumper cables, tire chains or snow tires, flares, fuel tank of gas, bag of sand or cat litter, shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, tow rope, blanket, boots, mittens, warm clothes, flashlight, water, and snacks.

If you are travelling by car this winter season and are travelling to or living in an area at risk of experiencing winter storms:

  1. Drive cautiously, keeping your distance from other cars, avoiding cruise control, and breaking slowly.
  2. Check the weather for storms and snow and prepare accordingly. Remember that the weather forecast is more accurate the closer you get to your travel date.
  3. Decide on the safest route and let someone know where you are going and your expected time of arrival.
  4. Winterize your vehicle by keeping it well maintained, installing good tires, and adding winter supplies to your vehicle’s emergency kit including items to remove or melt snow (shovel, salt, sand, etc.), snow chains, a windshield scraper, and warm clothes/ blankets.

The top of the page has a light blue background with a white present box and gold bow to the right surrounded by glitter. Test reads "Put a FREEZE on winter holiday fires" A darker shad of blue rectangle is below, with the text "It's fun to decorate for the winter holidays, but holiday decorations can increase your risk for a home fire. As you deck the halls this season, be fire smart. 9 grey boxes are below. The box to the top left has a icon of a grey house with a red flame on top. Text read "Almost half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles." the box in the top middle has icons of candles and batteries, with the text "Think about using battery-operated flameless candles.". The box to the top right has a icon of a calendar with the text "DEC 25" in read and the text "Christmas is the peak day for candle fires." below. The middle left box has a yellow menorah candle, the text reads "keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns." The middle box has an icon a a christmas tree and a hand watering the tress with a red watering can. The text reads, "a dry christams tree can burn very hot and very fast." the middle right box has a n icon with 5 christmas trees, one with a red flame on it. the test reads, "more than 1 in every 5 Christmas tree fires were caused by a heat source too close to the tree. The bottom left box has an icon of christmas light strand wit the text "Read manufacturer's instructions for the number of light stands to connect. The middle bottom box has an icon of a christmas tree and a heater with a red arrow in between pointing to both with the text "3 feet" on it. The text below states "make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces radiators, space heaters, candles, or heat vents. Also, make sure your tree does not block exits. The bottom right box has an icon of a calendar on the date dec 30 with a red note stating "take out tree". Below is text reading "Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it is dry." Below this section are the icones for FEMA, US Fire Administration, Fire is Everyone's Fight, and NFPA. To the right of the logos is text that reads "For more information on how to prevent winter fires, visit and

Stay safe during the winter holidays – prevent home fires!

Safe use of holiday lights and candles

  • Turn off holiday lights and candles at night or when you leave the house.
  • Ensure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Avoid overloading outlets, power strips, and extension cords or connecting more than 3 light strands to the same outlet, unless the directions indicate it is safe.
  • Connect strings of light to an extension cord before plugging them into an outlet.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Consider purchasing flame retardant metallic or artificial trees.
  • If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken.
  • Water your Christmas tree every day, and don’t let it dry out. A dry tree is more flammable.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over.
  • Look for Christmas Tree recycling programs in your community and throw out lives trees after 2 weeks or once dry.
  • Avoid putting tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.

Cooking Safety 

  • Keep a fire extinguisher close by when cooking.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking food. Turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fir (ex. pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper & plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains) away from your stove top.

Winter Weather Information

Monitor and Prepare for Flooding

Prepare for Power Outages

Food Safety

Medical Device Planning Tips for Outages

Plan ahead!

Sign up for PG&E Medical Baseline

The Silicon Valley Independent Living Center may be able to assist with power needs for medical devices. See if you qualify.

City of Santa Clara Fire Department has a medical database for city residents.

Silicon Valley Independent Living Center 
PG&E Planning Tips 
City of Santa Clara Medical Database 

Silicon Valley Independent Living Center Main Office: 408-894-9041 

[email protected]
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PG&E Outage Health & Accessibility Support

PG&E Power Outage Map by Address

Power Outages