When the temperatures drop people, property, and animals can be at risk. The weather can create health hazards like hypothermia and frostbite. It can freeze and break pipes, and even indirectly cause fires when home heating methods turn dangerous.
Preparing your home
Before the temperatures drop:
If freezing temps are expected:
Preparing your car
In addition to regular maintenance, every fall:
Preparing your family
Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because infants lose body heat more easily than adults. Warm clothing and temperatures are especially important for babies. If the infant must sleep near you to stay warm, take precautions to prevent rolling on the baby. Pillows and other soft bedding can also present a risk of smothering and should not be near the child.
Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. If you are over 65 years of age, check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather. Also, check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated.
Stay dry and warm. It's important for everyone in order to to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Remember to wear your hat, gloves, scarf, coat, etc. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. And stay dry - wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
Don't forget about the pets. Cold temperatures can be just as dangerous for them.
Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.
The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. Be aware that winds can present an added danger. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool.
Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat.
The danger of hypothermia:
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Eventually your body uses up its stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won't be able to do anything about it.
Hypothermia doesn't just occur when it's below freezing. Rain, sweat, or cold water can chill the victim even when the temperatures are above the freezing mark.
Warnings signs of hypothermia:
If you notice any of these signs, take the person's temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, get medical attention immediately.
If no medical care is available, or not immediately available, begin warming the person:
The danger of frostbite:
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. You should also know the symptoms:
Frostbite first aid:
After the chill
You, your family and your animals are fine, but what about the house? Frozen pipes are a big concern now: