Stay warm during severe cold weather


Stay warm during severe cold weather

Stay warm during severe cold weather

Extreme cold can cause a number of health problems. Hypothermia and frostbite are just two of the health effects induced by cold weather.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s core body temperature is lower than 95°F. The condition is considered mild if a person’s core temperature is between 90 and 95°F. Victims of mild hypothermia may show symptoms including uncontrollable shivering, loss of dexterity, pale and cool skin, and incoherence.

Severe hypothermia occurs when a person’s core body temperature falls below 90°F. At this temperature shivering stops and the victim’s blood pressure, heart rate and respiration begin dropping. Symptoms of severe hypothermia include slurred speech, confusion, shallow breathing, unusual behavior and a slow, irregular heartbeat. In extreme cases, the victim appears dead.

Treat mild hypothermia by moving the victim to a warm, dry environment. Prevent further heat loss by covering the victim’s head and neck. Provide extra clothes or blankets. Give the victim warm liquids (no caffeine or alcohol) and high-energy foods. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

Severe hypothermia dem ands immediate medical attention. Apply mild heat (comfortable to the elbow) to the victim’s head, neck, chest, armpits and groin. Attempt to keep the victim conscious. As much as possible, prevent them from moving. Movement circulates cold blood back to the heart and can cause further damage.

Frostbite is frozen and sometimes dead tissue caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, usually below freezing. The extremities of the body (ears, nose, fingers, h ands, toes, and feet) are most often affected because the body reduces blood flow to them in an effort to maintain its core temperature.

Frostbite usually causes the skin to look pale or blue. In extreme cases, the skin may turn black. The skin will generally feel cold and numb, and may be either stiff or rubbery. Severe cases of frostbite may form blisters.

Contrary to common belief, one should NEVER rub areas affected with frostbite. Rubbing actually increases the tissue damage. Move the victim to a warm, dry area. Place the affected area into warm water (100 to 104°F) until it becomes red, not until feeling returns. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

If you must be outside in cold weather, dress in layers including a hat, gloves and insulated boots. The inner layer of clothing should transfer moisture away from the skin, the middle layer should provide insulation and warmth while the outer layer prevents wind, rain and snow from getting in . Air between the layers also will provide additional warmth.

Keeping dry in cold weather is crucial to avoiding hypothermia. If a person does get wet, quickly move the individual to a warm, dry area. Remove the wet clothing and cover the individual with dry clothes or blankets.

Avoid smoking and stimulants, such as caffeine and alcohol. Smoking decreases circulation to the extremities. Caffeine stimulates the heart and may cause it to circulate cold blood. Although alcohol may make a person feel warm, it actually causes the body to lose heat.

Nutrition is a critical part of combating hypothermia. Your body needs food to burn to sustain core temperature. Eat a well balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates. The dry air in cold conditions also can cause dehydration. It is important to rehydrate regularly.

A winter storm is bearing down. Are you ready?

A winter storm is bearing down.
Are you ready?

Bitter temperatures, howling winds and icy precipitation can easily turn a pretty winter snowfall into a dangerous event.

With a storm now on your doorstep, here are a few things you can do to stay safe and warm while the storm
passes through.

Check your supplies. Make sure you have a snow shovel and ice melt to keep walkways clear and safe. Check that you have sufficient heating fuel for your home and fuel for your generator, if you have one. If you will be using a fireplace or wood-burning stove, you should have a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Have warm clothing and blankets on h and and stock non-perishable food items and necessary medications to last you and your family several days.

Get ready for a power outage. Turn your heat up now and close off any rooms that are not in use. Check pipe insulation and allow water to run at a trickle to prevent pipes from freezing. Charge your battery-powered electronic and communications devices. A battery-powered radio can help keep you aware of changing weather conditions. Get out your flashlights, batteries, first aid kit and other emergency supplies.

Stay warm – and safe. If you start a wood-burning fire, follow all fireplace safety precautions. Do not use an oven or a range as a home heating device. If you have a generator, use it outside only, where there is sufficient ventilation. Test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they work properly. Do not let c andles burn unattended, and keep them away from combustibles. LED c andles are a safe, energy efficient alternative. Also, if you have an ice dam prevention system, turn it on before the snow starts to fall.

Stay inside – and safe. Drive only if you absolutely must, and be sure your car is outfitted with snow tires, has adequate fuel and an emergency supply kit. If you go outside to shovel, know your limits and try not to overtax your body.
Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing layers of warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Stay away from any downed power lines you may see. Keep your pets inside, or make other suitable arrangements for them.

We at Travelers hope these measures will help get you through the storm safely and comfortably.

Find more suggestions on long-term planning for a winter storm by visiting our page on winterizing your home.