Are you prepared for winter?

Winter storms can turn severe fast.

Winter weather is upon us and you need to be prepared for what mother nature can potentially throw your way ... especially if you are planning a drive during the holidays!

To keep your family safe, understanding a few basic terms of winter weather alerts are key.

A Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.

A Winter Storm Warning indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately and can be life threatening.

Ice Storm Warnings are issued for ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more.

You'll get these watches and warnings by watching KHQA, downloading KHQA's free mobile app for iPhone or Android or by following KHQA on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to our weather emails here.

Another way to recieve notice of these alerts is by weather radio. Similar to spring severe weather, these winter alerts also need to be taken into consideration for your family's well being. Click here to learn more about how to program your weather radio.

Winter storms can turn severe fast. When an alert goes into effect, you need to have your family prepared. Here are a few tips to be ready when winter weather strikes.

Creating a family emergency plan and an emergency kit with bottled water and food that can be prepared without cooking in case of a power outage. Kits should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit.

Make sure all heat sources, such as fireplaces, woodstoves and oil heaters function properly. If you have a generator, make sure you have fuel and that your generator functions properly. Only operate generators outdoors.

Create a winter car kit. This should include a blanket, spare radio with batteries, snacks or energy-type food, jumper cables, flares, a shovel and sand or shingles to give tires traction.

Make sure cell phones are charged before driving in foul winter weather and ensure that you have all the important emergency numbers.

Stay in tune with KHQA for all your severe weather updates to keep you ahead of the storm.

Additional information about winter weather preparedness can be found at the National Weather Service website here.