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Experts urge making emergency kits ahead of winter storms

The CDC reports that only 48% of households have emergency kits, but emergency physician Dr....
The CDC reports that only 48% of households have emergency kits, but emergency physician Dr. Matt Bitner with Prisma Health says that winter weather brings unique problems that Midlands residents should prepare for.(WIS)
Published: Jan. 15, 2022 at 6:49 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the Midlands brace for the potential of winter weather this weekend, experts urge households to put together emergency kits for homes and for cars.

The CDC reports that only 48% of households have emergency kits, but emergency physician Dr. Matt Bitner with Prisma Health says that winter weather brings unique problems that Midlands residents should prepare for.

“As the temperature drops, it can continue to increase the demands for fluids. So, it’s important to stay hydrated, not only with non-caffeinated liquids but also with fuel because your body is going to need extra energy as your body creates and maintains heat,” said Bitner.

Bitner says it’s important to make sure you have plenty of water and snacks on hand in case you lose power. It’s also crucial to have blankets and layers of dry clothing.

“The areas that are furthest from your core—your fingers, your toes, your ears, your nose, are at risk of tissue damage from frostbite, so make sure you have all exposed areas covered,” said Bitner. “Once we get below 40 degrees, it’s important that you have at least two to three layers of warm clothing with an outer layer that is impervious to wind and moisture.”

During storms, Dr. Bitner says it may be difficult for some people to access medical care. However, there are situations in which emergency care is needed. For example:

  • If you or a family member is having significant trouble breathing
  • Experiencing chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion or lack of awareness
  • Unable to wake up or stay awake
  • Gray or blue discoloration of skin, lips, or nail beds

“If you or a family member is unable to be awakened or stay awake or if you notice discoloration—any gray or blue color skin or lips or nail beds. Those could all be danger or warning signs that could prompt an immediate visit to an emergency department,” said Bitner.

If you are having a medical emergency, Bitner suggests calling 911. If you are having a non-emergency or are not sure of your status, he suggests using a virtual urgent care clinic.

To prevent being stuck on icy roads or to survive a power outage, first aid expert Brad Greer says each household should have an emergency kit ready to go in the home and in each car.

Items to include in the home kit are:

  • Batteries
  • A first aid kit
  • Water
  • Food
  • Cell phone backup batteries

Items to include for a car kit are:

  • Charged portable cell phone charger
  • Whistle
  • Bandages
  • Pain medication
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Blankets
  • Dry clothing
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Water
  • Snacks

“You may think you’re able to control your driving on snow and ice, but that’s a challenge. And you certainly can’t control other drivers or people who are driving 18 wheelers on the highways,” said Greer. “We don’t know how bad the weather conditions are going to be or the extent of the ice and snow, but be prepared and go to your local store and protect yourself and protect others.”

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