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Extreme Cold Safety & Tips

Winter weather can be deadly. Review this page to make sure you are prepared for heavy snow and cold temperatures so you can keep safe this winter.

Stay Warm for the Winter
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Be Prepared

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a snowstorm or extreme cold weather: 

  • Make sure you have food and water to last several days.
  • Check your heating systems, and make sure to leave the heat set to at least 60 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • It also helps to keep faucets dripping to prevent frozen pipes if temperatures go below 20 degrees.
  • Finally, review Somerville’s snow emergency policies in advance at

Stay safe and warm! 


Stay Safe

Here are some tips on how you can keep yourself and neighbors ready for winter storms and extreme cold weather: 

  • Check on your neighbors before, during, and after storms! If you have neighbors who are elderly, have a disability, or are otherwise unable to navigate cold and winter weather, please check in and make sure that they are safe, healthy, and have food and resources to weather any storms. When temperatures are extremely cold, your neighbors in need may not be able to make it outdoors and to the store to pick up necessary medications and supplies. 
  • Stay dry and change clothing if it gets wet. 
  • Dress in layers, and cover as much exposed skin as possible. 
  • Drink warm liquids and water to stay hydrated.  
  • Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body. 
  • Know where your electricity, gas, and water switches and valves are located and how to shut them off. You may need to turn off water pipes if your pipes freeze or burst. If possible, consider having a safe backup like a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater in case your heat goes out. 
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are working and have fresh batteries. (Learn more about carbon monoxide safety here
  • Make sure your vehicle’s gas tank is at least half full and pack an emergency kit that includes blankets and/or warm clothing. 
  • Minimize time outside, even for pets. 
  • Follow all safety precautions if using space heaters and DO NOT use a stove or oven as a heat source. 
  • If using an extension cord for a space heater, make sure it is rated for the appliance. 
  • Do not use space heaters as a primary heat source. 
  • Make sure space heaters are turned off when you go to bed or leave the house. 
  • Keep anything that could burn at least three feet from space heaters. Keep in mind that drying Christmas trees can pose a fire hazard and space heaters should not be used near them. 
  • If your pipes freeze, remove any insulation, pour hot water over them or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, and completely open all faucets. You can also use a hairdryer, with caution, to thaw pipes. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes. If you cannot locate or resolve a frozen pipe, call a licensed plumber. 
  • Watch for signs of cold-related health concerns like frostbite and hypothermia and call 911 immediately for any emergencies. 


Shovel Safe

The City of Somerville requires you to shovel sidewalks abutting your property must be shoveled within 6 daylight hours after snow stops falling. Unshoveled snow can quickly harden into solid ice, which makes for difficult conditions.  

Clearing sidewalks is of the utmost importance to prevent hazards to others, including our school children. So please make sure you have sufficiently warm clothing and snow clearing supplies ahead of a storm. When shoveling, please take the following precautions into consideration: 

  • Dress warmly and in layers. 
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes or boots. 
  • Take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion. 
  • Use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury. 
  • If you have a heart condition or other medical condition, consult your doctor before shoveling. 


For Parents

Here are some tips to help students prepare for cold weather: 

  • Dress in layers so you can remove pieces as necessary when you enter heated buildings. 
  • Wear a winter jacket, hat, gloves, and warm boots to keep you warm and dry. 
  • If you need support in getting any of these items, please talk to school administrators or your SFLC Family Liaison. 
  • The safety and health of our students is our top priority, and we want to ensure that students are properly dressed in the cold weather for walking to and from school and for outside recess if the weather permits. 

Stay safe and warm! 


Avoid Carbon Monoxide Risks

Clear Snow from Vents to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

Automobiles, heaters, cooking appliances, and other everyday items that burn fuel produce carbon monoxide when they run. This gas is normally vented out of buildings and cars long before it poses any health risk, but this cannot happen if exterior vents are blocked by snow, ice, or debris. Carbon monoxide is deadly in high quantities. Because the gas cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, it is extremely important that all exterior home heating vents and vehicle tailpipes be cleared completely, and that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are tested to ensure they have batteries and are working. 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include: 

  • Dull headache 
  • Weakness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Confusion 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Loss of consciousness 

If you believe you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, call 911. 

More Info

You can also find more information at

The Somerville Council on Aging has information on cold weather community resources such as fuel and heating assistance, shelters. 

Snow Emergencies 

Safety Tips & Info 



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