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Safety Before the Storm

Create your severe weather action plan now

Preparing for severe weather can save your life

Creating a storm-readiness plan and reviewing it with your household can keep you safe in an emergency. Preparing ahead of time will help you act quickly and confidently to protect yourself and others in severe weather.

Know your risks: Chattanooga’s fall and winter weather hazards

In colder seasons, Chattanooga’s temperatures fluctuate between mild and below freezing. Here’s what we typically experience from September to March in the TN Valley.

  • Potential Weather Hazards
  • Flash Flooding
  • Dense Fog
  • Freezing Temperatures
  • Snow, Sleet, Wintry Mixes
  • Winter Storms & Rare Blizzards
  • Thunderstorms
  • Occasional Tropical Storms
  • Tornadoes (Highest risk in February & March)
  • Average Temperatures
  • Fall: 42-72ºF
  • Winter: 33º-55ºF
  • Monthly Precipitation
  • Fall: 3.1-4.2 inches of rain
  • Winter: 4.2-4.7 inches of rain*
*Snow and ice are most common in January.

Winter-Ready Checklist: How to prepare for extremely cold weather

There's a lot you can do to winter-proof your home, but here are steps you can take now to stay safe & warm while keeping energy costs down as much as possible.


Seal doors & windows

Check for drafts. Use weatherstripping or apply caulk to seal gaps and air leaks.


Reduce fireplace heat loss

Close the damper or flue on unlit fireplaces. Open before lighting. Add tempered glass doors for extra savings.


Lower your thermostat

Turn down the heat by 1ºF until you find the lowest setting that's still comfortable for you.


Use personal heating devices

Warm up with energy-efficient electric blankets & warm clothing layers.


Take advantage of sunlight

Let in sunshine for a free heat source. At night, close curtains, blinds & drapes to prevent drafts.


Prioritize closing exterior doors

It’s crucial to keep exterior doors closed. Make it fun by giving your kids the role of “door monitor.”

Take these steps before severe weather strikes

If the weather forecast warns that hazardous weather is arriving soon, take the following steps to protect yourself as well as your loved ones, your home and your business.

Build a Storm Kit

Pack “go bags” you can easily grab in an emergency for each household member. Don’t forget your pets! Include the following:

  • Dust masks & face masks
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes
  • Garbage or grocery bags
  • Plastic ties
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Waterproof container with matches
  • Sanitary and hygiene items
  • Pre-charged, portable battery bank
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Spare glasses or extra contact lenses
  • At least $100 in cash in case ATMs don’t work
  • Extra set of clothes
  • “Survival” or space-saver blanket
  • Mittens, gloves, socks, hats & scarves
  • Clean water: 1 gallon/day for each family member
  • Food: non-perishable foods to last you several days
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio or a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlight (hand crank or stocked with batteries)
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries (pre-charged)
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local, printed maps
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Ice Scraper & Safety Absorbent (to use if tires are stuck on ice)
  • Hand Warmers or “Hot Hands”
  • Rechargeable Heating Pads
Power & Lighting Supplies

Charge these items and put them in a safe, easily accessible location:

  • Flashlights
  • Pre-charged batteries
  • USB or solar-powered portable power banks
Safety Tip: Wind and open flames are a dangerous combination — avoid using candles to prevent a possible fire hazard.
Create Emergency Backup Plans

Make arrangements with friends so you have somewhere to stay if needed. If you’re concerned about your food going bad, set up a cooler you can pack with ice to extend the life of your perishables if your fridge warms up.

Identify a “Safe Space” & Practice Tornado Drills

Treating tornado warnings seriously can save your life. Small, interior, windowless rooms are the safest places to shelter from tornadoes.

In colder seasons, Chattanooga is most at-risk for tornadoes in February and March.

Prepare Your Vehicle

These preparations can help keep you safe if you’re away from home during severe weather:

  • Check antifreeze, fuel, oil and wiper fluid levels.
  • Clean the battery terminals.
  • Maintain functional brakes.
  • Fill your tank with gas or charge your battery.
  • Change your windshield wipers.
  • Create a mobile emergency supply kit with these items:
  • Cell phone charger & power bank
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Foldable shovel
  • Tow rope
  • Snacks
  • Ice scraper
  • Blanket
  • Hand warmers or “Hot Hands”
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Water
  • Safety absorbent in case your tires get stuck (e.g. ground corn cobs, sand, cat litter)
Download Apps to Stay Weather-alert

Install the MyEPB App to report, view, track and get real-time alerts for outages and restoration progress. Get notified of severe weather with apps from your favorite weather stations, or FEMA.

Watch vs. Warning — How to respond to weather alerts

Familiarize yourself with different types of weather alerts and which actions to take to protect yourself.

Winter Storm Watch

Cold winds and 5+ inches of ice, sleet, snow or freezing rain may fall. Prepare backup heat sources and avoid travel.

Winter Storm Warning

In the next 12 hours, heavy snow of at least 6 inches (or ½ inch of sleet) will fall. Prepare backup heat and power sources and avoid travel.

Go levelized to stay warm without billing surprises

EPB Levelized Billing is a free program that prevents drastic changes in your bill, even during the coldest months when your heater is working extra hard to keep you warm, safe and comfortable. Levelized bills are calculated based on a "rolling average" of your power usage over the last 12 months. That means your bill won't fluctuate very much month to month.

Enroll Now
Surge Protectors

Protect Valuable Electronics

Lightning strikes occasionally lead to power surges that can harm your devices and electronics. Avoid costly damage by plugging them into surge protectors with the following features:

  • Labeled “surge protector” — power strips look similar but don’t offer surge protection.
  • Minimum rating of 2,000 Joules — the higher the rating, the more protection.
  • GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter — detects short circuits and shuts off power to prevent electrical fires.
Using a generator? Create a safety plan to avoid potentially lethal hazards

A generator is a great way to meet your needs and return to normalcy during an outage. However, it’s essential to practice basic safety measures to avoid accidental harm or even death.

  1. 1. Choose the safest location for your generator ahead of time to avoid potentially lethal hazards, such as suffocation from carbon monoxide, electrocution and fires.
    • Outside — Carbon monoxide emissions can kill you quickly in enclosed spaces.
    • 20+ feet away from your home.
    • Exhaust pointed away from windows and doors.
    • Keep it covered and well-ventilated in a small plastic shed, portable canopy, generator-safe steel enclosure or with an official generator cover.
  2. 2. Find outdoor-rated extension cords. Using a standard extension cord or one that has the wrong gauge, length or a worn-out wire can lead to fatal shock, fire hazards and inefficiency. Directly connect an outdoor-rated generator-safe cord with the generator and plug your electronics into the extension cord.
  3. 3. Hire a professional to install a transfer switch for extra safety. A certified electrician can install this directly into your electrical panel so that it directly powers your hardwired appliances.
  4. 4. Create and store a list of safety tips and risks near your generator. Misusing these devices can lead to death from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, possible electrocution, and burns — all of which can be avoided of you know the risks.
    • Only refuel when the generator is off and has had a chance to cool down.
    • Avoid fumes at all times. Stay at least 15 feet away from the generator while it’s running to avoid inhaling toxic fumes that can kill or harm you.
    • Don’t “backfeed” your home. Don’t plug your generator into a wall outlet to supply your home. This can cause a fire or electrocution.

Stay warm, safe & keep energy costs as low as possible. Explore our videos for winter energy tips and DIYs.