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Tips to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Posted Feb 1, 20223 min Read

Regulatory & Clinical

Everyone has been COVID-19 focused and now we are faced with a winter storm with unpredictable challenges that must be considered. Being prepared to face a disaster that could have impacts on residents, staff, and the building takes planning, a well-informed team and check list that corresponds with the emergency disaster plan. Utilize the following to help mitigate risks:


Disasters require the consideration of evacuation of residents and staff. Facilities should assess all their residents in advance and determine what their needs are and what they require to stay safe and comfortable in an emergency. If a facility finds that its residents could safely evaluate, an evacuation plan should be developed; if not, the facility staff should focus on sheltering safely in place.

Factors to consider in making the decision to stay or go:

  • Recommendations or orders of local and state emergency management authorities.
  • Alternative facility to relocate to.
  • Resident acuity levels
  • Transportation
  • Resident supplies and specific information


Losing electricity is never comfortable and can lead to problems. Think about medical support devices that require electricity, elevators, heating and air conditioning, refrigeration and lighting can cause hazardous conditions to resident’s health if not functioning and lead to challenges for the staff caring for residents. A backup power source and or functioning and fueled generator should be in place at the facility in case the power is lost. Medical devices requiring electricity should be plugged into a red outlet before the storm conditions worsen.

Food and Water

A backup supply of food and water for residents, visitors and staff that is on hand for at least 3 days.

Snow and Ice Clearing Priorities

Roadways, walkways, entrances, and parking lots will need access maintained and deiced frequently to ensure mitigated hazards.

Staffing Contingency Plan

Your facility may face staffing shortages for a variety reason during a winter storm and staff may not be able to get to work, may be ill, or may need to take care of their own families during the emergency. Considerations as follows:

  • Local or on-site accommodations for staff to sleep.
  • Local or onsite accommodations for staff children to receive care if schools and day care are closed related to the winter storm.
  • Food and Water for the staff that are unable to leave the facility.
  • Full implementation of Family Care Givers.
  • Pick up and drop off staff with heavy utility truck transportation.

Inventory of Supplies and Medications

Your facility should have an emergency stockpile of medications, PPE, and medical supplies adequate to cover all residents in the facility for at least 72 hours and ideally, up to a week.

Chain of Command, Roles and Communication

There are five critical areas of responsibility to be carried out during an emergency and require communication and leadership:  1. overall management of emergency response; 2. communications, both internal and external; 3.  resident care, both clinical care and psychosocial care; 4. facility operations, which encompasses physical plan operations and food services, and 5) business operations, covering finances and expenditures during the emergency, payroll, insurance claims, etc.

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About the Author

Lori Davenport, Director of Clinical & Regulatory Affairs