Cold Weather Safety
Know the Difference
Winter Storm Watch
Severe weather conditions such as heavy snow and/or ice are possible, prepare now.
Winter Storm Warning
Severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin in your area, stay indoors.
Preparing for Severe Weather
It's important to be prepared for winter storms and severe weather before they strike. Stock up with emergency supplies in case you become snowbound or without electricity for a period of time. Emergency supplies you should have on hand in case of a winter storm include the following:
* portable radios and flashlights, with fresh batteries and extra batteries just in case
* bottled water
* a supply of food that can be prepared without an electric or gas stove
* candles and matches
* appropriate clothing (i.e. long underwear, mittens, hats, scarves, warm socks) and plenty of blankets
* emergency heating equipment and fuel
Dressing for Cold Weather
When the temperature drops below freezing and the wind-chill factor is below zero, it is best to stay indoors . If you must go out, always dress properly for the weather. The following suggestions will help keep you warm:
* Cover your ears and the lower part of your face. The ears, nose, chin and forehead are most susceptible to frostbite.
* Wear several layers of lightweight clothing. The air between layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer than just one or two layers of heavy garments.
* Be sure to keep your head covered...you lose 50% of your body heat through your head.
* Wear mittens rather than gloves...the contact of your fingers keeps your hands warmer.
* Wear heavy socks, or two pairs of lightweight socks, with waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry.
Hypothermia is a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less, which can be fatal if not detected promptly and treated properly. There are several signs a person may be suffering from hypothermia. Signs to look for include:
* slurred speech
* weak pulse
* slow heartbeat
* very slow, shallow breathing
If you notice these symptoms, the individual's temperature should be taken immediately. If it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, wrap the patient in a blanket to prevent further heat loss and seek medical assistance.
When spending time outdoors during cold weather, be alert for signs of frostbite. Frostbitten skin is whitish and stiff and the area will feel numb rather than painful. If you notice these signs after prolonged exposure to cold weather, take immediate action.
To treat frostbite, warm the affected part of the body gradually. Wrap the frostbitten area in blankets, sweaters, coats, etc. If no warm wrappings are available, place frostbitten hands under the armpit or use your body to cover the affected area and seek medical attention immediately.
Additional Cold Weather Safety Tips
* Have a disaster supply kit for the trunk of each car used by members of your household. Include blankets, extra sets of dry clothing, a shovel, sand, tire chains, jumper cables, a first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries and a brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna. Also, be sure to winterize all cars before the winter storm season.
* If you are trapped in your car during a snowstorm, stay there. Leave the car only if help is visible within 100 yards. To attract attention, hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the trunk. Start the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour and turn on the heater when the car is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
* Winter storms bring ice, snow and cold temperatures. Even small amounts of snow and ice can cause severe problems. In order to be prepared put together a disaster supply kit for your home. Include a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, canned food and non-electric can opener, first aid supplies and bottled water.
* The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly. All of these methods of heating may be acceptable, however, they are also a major contributing factor in residential fires. Remember to use caution with heating sources to help prevent fires. Leave adequate clearance between the heating appliance and combustible surfaces (at least 3 feet) and never operate appliances while you are asleep or when you have left the house.
* Shoveling snow is extremely hard work, especially if you lift large loads and throw the snow some distance from your body. Cold weather puts and extra strain on your heart without any physical exertion. Therefore, you shouldn't shovel snow unless you are in good physical condition. Be sure to know your limits when shoveling, rest frequently and pace yourself. If you become breathless, stop and go indoors to rest and warm up before continuing.