Exposure to extreme cold can be dangerous to people’s health. Actions that can be taken to help protect against severe cold and freezing temperatures include:
Preparing your home and family
- Review and update your family emergency plan, including needs of infants and seniors.
- Replenish your emergency supply kits including battery-operated radio and flashlights.
- Have extra blankets on hand.
- Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Check on family members and neighbors who are elderly or have special needs.
- Move family pets indoors or to an enclosure out of the elements. Likewise protect livestock or other large animals from the cold weather.
- Maintain a sufficient supply of heating fuel.
- Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip during cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand. Make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
- Do NOT bring heating devices into the home that are intended for outdoor use, such as barbecues and other cooking equipment or other fuel burning devices.
Dressing for the weather
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
- Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
Recognizing symptoms of cold weather exposure
- Confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and shivering are signs of possible hypothermia. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
- Gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy skin are symptoms of frostbite. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
- In the case of overexposure to freezing temperatures, remove wet clothing and immediately warm the body with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup.
During a storm
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.