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How To Help Citizens Prepare For Severe Weather This Winter: 10 Ways To Prepare

By Anna Figliola

National weather patterns are increasing in severity each year, bringing dangerous temperatures and storms to various parts of the country, even areas that have never experienced cold weather before such as Texas. Each state is responsible for implementing specific measures to prepare local government officials for winter conditions in their environment. States expecting a snowy, cold winter need to account for winter community planning and consider ways to keep constituents safe, healthy, and warm. 

Local government officials should make efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens via transportation services, emergency shelters, and coordination with utility companies to maintain adequate heat. Keeping constituents safe during severe weather conditions is crucial to prevent injuries, illnesses, fatalities, and to maintain the overall well-being and resilience of the community. 

Government leaders face immense challenges during months of harsh winter weather as they strive to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens. Whether the municipality is expecting a foot of snow or just a flurry, it is vital that communities are prepared in various facets to face the conditions. Keep reading to learn about balancing limited resources, addressing diverse needs of the community, and staying prepared for rapidly changing conditions requires careful planning and quick decision making. 

Why Does Winter Safety Fall Under The Responsibility of Local Governments?

Harsh winter conditions require the local government to ensure safety in public spaces including roads, bridges, and sidewalks by accounting for freezing temperatures and precipitation. The responsibility falls on local officials to keep conditions safe in the municipality during the coldest, most unpredictable months. Local governments are better equipped to understand the specific needs and challenges of their area, including road conditions, snow and ice removal, and emergency response. Moreover, local governments possess the authority to enact and enforce regulations to ensure public safety during winter months. 

Local governments are responsible for citizen well-being, and this duty extends to weather-based hazards in the community during the winter. Public spaces like parks, roads, sidewalks, and libraries are government property and are therefore expected to be maintained by local officials for constituents to continue using safely.

How Can Government Software Help Local Governments Plan For Winter?

Government and municipal software can help local governments plan for winter with tools to enhance preparedness, response, and recovery efforts during winter weather events, ultimately improving public safety and minimizing disruptions. 

  • GIS Map

The term ‘GIS Map’, or Geographic Information System, refers to a computer system that analyzes and displays geographical information attached to a unique location. GIS mapping technology can be incredibly beneficial to local governments planning for harsh winter weather conditions in their locality by streamlining processes like permit and license applications, code enforcement, and emergency management. 

GIS mapping technology can provide crucial information to officials that they can pass to citizens during a hazardous storm, including evacuation routes, flood zones, and the location of critical infrastructure. 

Check out GovPilot’s GIS Map for government here. 

  • Parks and Rec Software 

Recreation management software, or parks and recreation software, refers to software designed specifically to help local governments manage recreational activities effectively. Parks and Rec software can assist in managing facilities during the winter months, including scheduling maintenance, monitoring usage, and ensuring safety compliance. 

Read more about Parks & Recreation Department Software here.

  • Report-A-Concern

Report-A-Concern software pertains to government complaint management software designed to allow citizens to communicate their grievances on a centralized platform directly to the appropriate government department. This digital tool simplifies and streamlines the process of managing citizen concerns by providing a user-friendly interface to facilitate collaboration between local government and its constituents. 

In the winter months, Report-A-Concern can be used to report fallen electrical lines, blocked roadways, issues with utilities, and any other concern associated with inclement weather. 

Check out our Complaint Management Software Guide here!

  • Public Works Software

Our Department of Public Works Software enhances local government’s ability to plan, manage, and respond to winter weather events, consequently improving public safety and reducing interference with transportation and infrastructure. Local government officials can use Public Works Software in the winter months to allocate resources, optimize routes, communicate and report updates, and collaborate with other departments. 

Learn more about GovPilot’s Department of Public Works Software

10 Ways Local Governments Can Best Prepare Citizens For The Winter

There are key ways to help constituents prepare for the severe cold and winter weather. Here are just a few key ways: 

1. Create Public Awareness Campaigns

Public awareness campaigns are a great way to proactively engage with the public and empower citizens to take necessary precautions in the winter, make informed decisions, and navigate the challenges of inclement weather conditions in the winter. Such campaigns can be organized through various communication channels including social media, local newspapers, and community bulletin boards. 

2. Emergency Preparedness Workshops

By organizing emergency preparedness workshops centered around winter weather safety, local governments can empower citizens with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to effectively respond to winter emergencies. Emergency preparedness workshops should provide information on how to prepare for and respond to winter-specific emergencies, including driving and home safety. Officials should cover topics including home heating safety, emergency kits and plans, and available community resources. 

It is paramount to Host Public Meetings and Workshops to help citizens understand how to handle weather protocols. 

3. Snow Removal Plans

Comprehensive snow removal plans are a crucial component of winter weather preparedness in government, as vehicular accidents rise significantly during this season. Local governments must develop effective snow removal plans for roadways, sidewalks, and public spaces and educate citizens on proper snow removal techniques. To ensure transparency and cooperation, local officials should utilize multiple communication channels to inform residents of procedures and timelines of snow removal in advance. 

4. Establish Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT):

Winter weather preparedness in local government includes the implementation of Community Emergency Response Teams to safeguard communities and empower citizens. Local governments should promote CERT programs that offer specialized training on winter weather hazards and emergency response protocols such as risk assessment, preparedness drills, and emergency communication efforts. 

Learn everything about Building Your Own CERT here! 

5. Infrastructure Maintenance

Local governments can keep citizens safe and warm in the winter with proper maintenance of infrastructure, including bridges, tunnels, and power lines. Infrastructure maintenance should be a priority during the winter months to minimize winter-related disruptions and possible hazards. 

Consider our Department of Public Works Strategy here.   

6. Shelter Planning

Winter weather can pose a number of threats to citizen safety, so ensuring accessibility to community shelters is a high priority for local governments during this season. Officials should identify and establish emergency shelters and modes of transportation for constituents in case of extreme inclement weather conditions. Make sure to communicate the locations and procedures for accessing shelters to keep vulnerable community members, such as the elderly protected and informed. 

7. Provide Health and Safety Guidelines

With winter weather hazards come winter-related colds and illnesses, which can be just as dangerous as an icy roadway if not addressed properly. Local governments in winter should distribute guidelines on staying healthy and safe during harsh weather conditions, including ways to prevent and treat cold-related illnesses. 

Learn about Creating Public Health Initiatives here. 

8. Monitor Assistance Programs

Vulnerable populations in the community are often overlooked, as many individuals may require additional assistance and support during the winter. Keep citizens safe by offering assistance programs for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and low-income families, to ensure adequate access to necessary resources during this time. 

Consider Improving Municipal Services With GovPilot.

9. Collaboration with Local Organizations

Enhance winter weather preparedness efforts by collaborating with local community organizations to leverage resources. Local governments can encourage businesses to execute contingency plans and establish volunteer programs to assist citizens in the community and distribute essential supplies. 

Learn about our Volunteer Application here. 

10. Provide Regular Weather Updates and Alerts

Local governments should help citizens stay informed by providing real-time weather updates and alerts through various communication channels. Ensuring citizens of the community are well informed and regularly updated on the winter weather status helps prevent injuries, illnesses, and avoidable hazards. 

Consider our Social Media Guide for Governments and Government Website Design Tips

Get Ahead Of Winter Weather Now

Local government officials need to take the aforementioned steps to make sure their community members stay safe during the harsh, cold winter months. Keeping citizens safe during severe weather conditions is a key component to winter weather preparedness in government and is crucial to prevent illnesses and fatalities. Book a consultation with GovPilot to get help with winter preparedness. 

Severe Weather Preparation FAQs

  • Why is it important to organize food drives and shelters during wintertime?

    • Local governments should organize food drives and shelters during the wintertime to ensure all residents have access to food and protection if inclement weather becomes extreme. 
  • What do citizens need to know about winter preparedness? 

    • When preparing for winter conditions, citizens need to know their municipalities guidelines and procedures for snow removal, emergency protocols, and roadway status. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Emergency Management, GovTech, Disaster Recovery, Public Health