Cold and wet weather safety tips

November 26, 2019

Our first wet and cold weather event of the season is upon us. The National Weather Service is forecasting cold temperatures and rain from Tuesday November 26th – Sunday December 1st  While this is the first event of the season, there will be more in the near future, so now is the time to be prepared (see below for how to be safe and prepared during inclement weather).  It also is a great time to check on anyone in your life who may need some extra help when it’s cold and rainy—and get to know your neighbors if you haven’t already done so. 

If you see someone in need of shelter, please call 3-1-1. If someone is having a medical emergency call 9-1-1.

Wet Weather Safety Tips

  • Prepare for storms by clearing storm water basins, using sandbags, and your finding flash lights and extra batteries. 
  • San Francisco Public Works provide up 10 free sandbags leading up to and during severe rainstorms. Sandbags are distributed Monday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Public Work Operations Yard (Marin Street/Kansas Street Gate). Bring proof of address. Sandbags are also sold at many local hardware and home improvement stores.
  • If the power goes out, unplug and turnoff appliances. Leave one light on to signal when power is restored.
  • If you home/office is prone to flooding, and time permits, move valuable possessions to the upper floors of your home.
  • Avoid walking through standing water, even ankle deep.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
  • Stay clear of water that is in contact with downed power lines.
  • Sign up for AlertSF by texting your Zip Code to 888-777.
  • Call 311 for non-life threatening storm issues. Call 911 for emergencies.


  •  Install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector; test batteries regularly and replace batteries as necessary.  Install the carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.  Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.  Keep these devices at least 20 feet from doors, windows and vents.  The fumes are deadly.
  • If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year and don’t burn paper in the fireplace.  Make sure that fireplace embers are completely out before going to bed for the night.  Wood fireplaces should always have a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out: extra blankets; sleeping bags; warm winter coats; a gas or log fireplace; or a portable space heater but located at least 3 feet or more from anything that may catch on fire.
  • Keep a space heater at least 3 or more feet away from anything that may catch on fire such as drapes, furniture or bedding.  Never cover you space heater or put it on top of furniture or near water.  Never leave children unattended near a space heater.  Make sure the cord is not a tripping hazard and do not run it under carpets or rugs.  Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.  Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Conserve Heat.  Avoid unnecessary opening door or windows, close off unneeded rooms.  Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors, close draperies or cover window with blankets at night.
  • Be prepared for power outages:  stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers; ensure that your cell phone is fully charged; have flashlights and extra batteries on hand; do not use flame-lit candles.


  • The San Francisco’s Homeless Outreach Team will be reaching out to unsheltered residents to help get them indoors. If you see someone in need of shelter, please call 3-1-1. If someone is having a medical emergency call 9-1-1.
  • Bring pets indoors.
  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing, stay warm, dress in layers, and wear a hat.
  • Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults.  Provide warm clothing and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature.  If the temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangement to stay elsewhere. 
  • Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical actively. Check on elderly or relatives and neighbors with disabilities frequently to ensure their homes are adequately heated.
  • Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can result in a dangerous condition called hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature.  Hypothermia is most likely to occur at very cold temperatures, but it can occur at even merely cool temperatures (above 40 degrees F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water.  Symptoms include:  shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness.  Hypothermia requires medical attention.  If a person is suffering from hypothermia do not give the individual caffeine, or alcohol, both of which can worsen the condition.  Until medical help is available, re-warm the person starting at the core of the body.  Warming arms and legs first can increase circulation of cool blood to the heart, which can lead to heart failure.  Use a blanket to gradually warm the individual.
  • Prevent dehydration. As people age, the mechanism that triggers their thirst becomes less sensitive.  At the same time, a lower percentage of body weight is made up of water, leading to dehydration.  It is recommended that individuals drink 6 – 8 glasses of liquid a day, especially in dry, cold weather.
  • Stay informed by checking local TV and radio stations for weather reports, sign up for AlertSF by texting your zip code to 888-777 to receive real-time emergency alerts via text message, follow @SF_Emergency on Twitter, and check www.SF72,org for general emergency preparedness information.