Office of Emergency Management

URI Department of Public Safety

44 Lower College Rd, Kingston, RI 02881

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Winter Weather Preparedness

Winter in Rhode Island can be exciting, cold, beautiful, unpredictable, and hazardous all at the same time. Being prepared for forecasted winter weather & sudden storms can help keep you safe during the winter months.

Staying Warm:

Dressing for the weather is one of the easiest & most critical ways to stay safe and warm during the winter months. Wind Chill plays a large factor in determining the most appropriate way to dress for the weather. When there is little to no wind, heat tends to stick to the body underneath your insulated layers, with elevated wind speeds Wind Chill takes effect and moves heat away from the body, even with insulated layers. When looking at the forecast for the day, use the wind chill to determine what clothes best suit your needs. This information below comes from NOAA’s National Weather Service, and can help you determine what layers you need.

National Weather Service graphic depicting appropriate layers for different cold weather conditions. Chilly weather: 1-2 shirt/jacket layers, one waterproof or resistant. One long layer for bottoms/pants. Warm, waterproof shoes. Cold Weather: 2-3 shirt/jacket layers, outer layer waterproof, 1-2 layers for bottoms/pants, waterproof shoes or boots, warm hat, warm gloves or mittens. Extreme Cold: warm hat and warm waterproof gloves/mittens. 3 or more layers, one insulating layer, one waterproof outer layer, waterproof & insulated boots, 2 or more bottom/pant layers


Driving in Snowy/Icy Weather

Driving in inclement weather should be avoided whenever practical & possible. If you do need to travel in snowy/icy weather, consider these safety tips:

  • Always pack a safety kit in your car should you break down or be unable to make it to your destination. Safety kit information can be found here.
  • Check road conditions before you leave, adjust routes as needed if conditions are poor.
  • Share your travel plans with someone before you head out, as well as anticipated arrival and return times. 
  • Check your vehicle battery, fluids, tire pressure, windows, lights, and camera often. Completely clear snow/ice from your vehicle before attempting to drive. Make sure your gas tank is more than halfway full.
  • When driving in snow & ice, take extra caution. Texting while driving is always illegal in Rhode Island, but the risk of serious accident is even higher in inclement weather. Leave extra space between you and the vehicles around you and drive more slowly than posted speed limits. Do not use cruise control, brake quickly, or take sharp turns when the road is slick from snow & ice.
  • Give snow plows extra room to plow & treat roads. Don’t crowd the plow!

Even if you follow all of the tips above, avoiding an accident or being stuck in your vehicle cannot be entirely prevented. If you find yourself in an accident consider these tips:

  • Try to pull your vehicle off the road with hazard lights. Staying out of the roadways can help prevent multi-vehicle crashes from piling up. 
  • Dial 911 and wait for police to arrive. Wait in your vehicle! It is both warmer & safer for you to do so. Understand that response times can be slower in inclement weather. 

If you find yourself stuck in traffic or in an impassable roadway:

  • Don’t abandon your vehicle. If you are the only vehicle stuck, call 911 and let them know your location. It is a good idea to send your exact location to a loved one should your phone die before you receive assistance.
  • If you are off the road, make your vehicle visible with reflectors or bright material
  • Run your car periodically for warmth once an hour for 5-10 minutes. Keep doors & windows shut to conserve this heat
  • Just before you run your car, get out and check the exhaust pipe for debris or snow. Keep it clear to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Bundle up with blankets & any extra fabric or clothing you might have in your vehicle. 
  • If snow is falling and getting close to blocking your egress from your vehicle, periodically shovel the areas around your car so you can exit the vehicle when help arrives. 


Power Outages

Winter storms often bring power outages as ice builds up on power lines & tree limbs, causing them to fall. Here are some tips to stay safe & warm in the event of a power outage during the winter months.

  • After a storm, consider all downed power lines live & dangerous. Do not approach or touch, contact your power company and 911 to report these downed lines.
  • Check in on neighbors & family members to make sure they are OK. If you have power while neighbors do not, consider inviting them over for a break from the cold.
  • Be careful with candles, fireplaces, and space heaters. All can pose a fire risk. Never leave them unattended. If you’re using a generator to power your home, make sure it is at least 20 feet away from doors/windows/garages to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Close windows, doors, blinds, and curtains to help keep the heat in. Stuff towels or rags in the cracks of windows/doors to help keep the heat in.
  • Wear loose fitting, warm layers to keep warm. Bundle up with a blanket or spend time in bed under the covers to help keep your whole body warm.
  • Keep hydrated with warm water & make sure to eat and drink regularly. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Emergency Numbers
On campus: 2121
Off campus: 874-2121
Sign up for EmergencyALERT

For More Information

How to find out what to do in the event of an emergency:
  • Sign up on e-Campus for the URI EmergencyAlert system
  • URI's Home page, Facebook page and Twitter feed
  • Call 874-SNOW (7669) or 874-1000 for recorded messages
  • Or listen to a local radio/TV station for announcements.

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