Whether this is your first time dealing with severe winter weather conditions or not, preparedness is key to making it through the bitter cold of spring semester.

Be Hokie Ready and review these tips from Virginia Tech's Office of Emergency Management. Then the next time snow and ice roll through town, you can sit back, stay safe, and even enjoy the weather a little bit while you count down the days till summer break.

1. Get Good Info

Winter Weather Tip 1

Don’t rely on friends or rumors to help you decide whether you should stock up on milk and toilet paper or study for your chem midterm — know your stuff and go straight to the source. Monitor local weather (we’re a fan of @NWSBlacksburg) so the forecast doesn’t catch you off guard, and look out for VT Alerts for the final word on class cancellations or dangerous conditions on campus.

If a storm is on its way or is already raging, hit up Virginia Tech News and the Virginia Tech Homepage for continued campus updates. And while you’re online, go ahead and follow @virginia_tech@BeHokieReady, and @VaTechPolice for more important updates and safety tips.

2. Know How To Deal With Ice

Winter Weather Tip 2

Icy conditions can be some of the most hazardous and the most difficult to spot. Remember that FWD vehicles do not ensure safety on icy roads, so it’s best to stay off the streets whenever possible. If you’re walking around campus, watch out for frozen sidewalks and stairs (especially in shady spots). Notice a particularly icy or dangerous area? You can report it by calling Facilities Services at 540-231-4300 or tweeting @VTFacilities.

3. Don’t Trust the Duck Pond

Winter Weather Tip 3

When it freezes over the Duck Pond gets all sparkly and magical, but it can be extremely misleading. That ice may look solid, but in reality it is much too thin to support your weight — so walking or standing on the surface puts you at risk of injury or drowning (or at the very least a pair of uncomfortably cold, wet feet).

4. Bundle Up, Buttercup

Winter Weather Tip 4

Believe it or not, you don’t have to go out and buy gear that was made for climbing Everest to stay toasty on the Drillfield. Just embrace lots of light, loose layers. Start with a moisture-wicking layer closest to your skin and build up from there, taking extra care with vulnerable areas such as your face, hands and feet. Top it all off with a waterproof top layer that includes a tight-knit jacket, mittens, hat and boots.

5. Check For Hidden Cold

Winter Weather Tip 5

Don’t wait for snow or ice to layer up — wind and extreme temperatures put you at risk even when there is no precipitation. This is where checking @NWSBlacksburg and not just the temperature filter on your Snapchat really comes in handy. Look for important details like wind chill and apparent temperature (i.e. what it “feels like” outdoors) before you decide to go out in just a fleece.

6. Don’t Stay In the Dark

Winter Weather Tip 6

Power outages are frustrating under normal conditions, but in severe weather they can turn dangerous. Plan ahead with some friends in another neighborhood, and if you lose power move to that alternate location. Charge your phone and keep it charged as soon as a weather alert is issued so you’re prepared to call for help (or let your friend know you’re on your way) when the lights cut out.

7. Keep Essentials On Hand

Winter Weather Tip 7

If you are homebound, make sure to store an emergency kit with at least three days worth of non-perishable food (nothing too snackable so you’re not tempted to pilfer from your stash) and bottled water (about three gallons per person). Keep blankets, warm clothing, flashlights and tools on hand, and avoid candles and alternate sources of heat.

8. Stay Parked

Winter Weather Tip 8

Don’t use cancelled classes as an excuse to run errands or visit friends — if the roads are too dangerous to get to campus, they are probably too dangerous to get just about anywhere. If you do decide to drive, keep your car stocked with basic emergency supplies (blanket, phone charger, shovel, ice scraper, sand/kitty litter) just in case you end up having to deal with an en-route emergency.

9. Walk This Way

Winter Weather Tip 9

If you’re heading out on foot, avoid walking alone. Bring a friend or have someone look out for you using the SafeWalk feature in the LiveSafe mobile app. Remember that sidewalks may remain blocked, especially within the first 24 hours of a storm. Be cautious, wear bright clothing and avoid walking in the street at all costs. If you can’t avoid the road, travel in the opposite direction of traffic to improve your visibility.

10. Have Fun, But Don’t Be Dumb

Winter Weather Tip 10

When sledding, avoid areas that run directly into roadways. Even if traffic is scarce, you run the risk of losing control of your sled and causing an accident.

Alcohol makes you more susceptible to cold weather conditions. Stay indoors and in one location when partying.

Emergency medical care could possibly be delayed due to road conditions. Take extra precaution when participating in high-risk activities, such as snowball fights, sledding, and other games. If you or a friend gets hurt or needs help, call 911 and wait for instructions from first responders before attempting to help.

Learn more about Being Hokie Ready

  • Follow the Office of Emergency Management on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates
  • Download the LiveSafe Mobile App to keep safety tips on hand at all times
  • Want to help promote preparedness on campus? Consider joining our Student Advisory Board
  • View our Severe Winter Weather guide for tips on what to do before, during, and after a winter storm

Last updated January 5, 2017