Cold Weather Safety Guide
As winter temperatures drop, it’s important to protect yourself and your family.
If there’s a winter storm approaching or it’s getting bitterly cold outside, there are steps you can take to prepare. Here are some tips from National Weather Service, the CDC and Ready.gov to stay safe in cold weather.
Know Your Winter Terms
Many terms are thrown around when the cold weather hits, and knowing what those terms mean is the first step to staying safe.
A Winter Weather Advisory means that winter elements (such as snow, ice or sleet) are expected, but not to an extent to meet the warning criteria. Be prepared to watch these conditions on the roads and be careful when traveling.
Winter Storm Watches occur when there is a chance of a significant winter storm based on current weather conditions.
Winter Storm Warnings are issued when severe winter weather (including heavy snow or freezing rain) is imminent or occurring. It is usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin. If one of these is issued, do not travel and delay any plans to do so until the situation improves.
Dress for the Season
If you must go out in the cold, be prepared by wearing the right clothing. As the temperature drops, add extra layers of clothing to stay warm.
For example, wear one to three layers plus an outer wind and waterproof layer when it’s cold or chilly, and add more layers (including an insulating layer) in extreme cold conditions.
Wear warm and waterproof shoes or boots. Cover your face, head and hands, especially when it’s very cold.
Be Careful When Traveling
Traveling can be dangerous in cold weather. Stay safe while driving by checking road conditions before you head out.
If the situation is severe, stay home and do not make unnecessary trips. Consider taking extra steps to keep your vehicle cool by looking at snow tires.
Add an Emergency Supply Kit to Your Vehicle
Keeping an emergency kit in your car is a great way to stay prepared and safe in case you get stranded in the snow or the cold.
Stock your car with supplies like jumper cables, flares, ice scrapers, car cell phone chargers, blankets and maps.
Be extra careful by going out with a full tank of gas when it’s cold and keep an eye on things in your car like the antifreeze level, brakes, ignition system and the heater, defroster and thermostat.
Know the Signs of Hypothermia
Hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature, is a problem that can arise in cold conditions. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, fatigue, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, stiff muscles and drowsiness.
If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, take them to a warm room and start with the center of the body first. Keep it dry and wrapped in warm blankets.
Stock Up Ahead of Time
Preparing your home for a cold weather or winter storm can start before you get the notification of a winter storm warning.
Other items to keep in your home include a flashlight and extra batteries, first-aid supplies, baby supplies and excess non-perishable and ready-to-eat food. Check your stock of these items as the winter season begins to approach.
Heating Your Home
The instinct is to turn up the heat when the temperature drops, but make sure to do it carefully to keep you and your family safe. If you are using a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take fire safety precautions and make sure the area is well ventilated.
For gas furnaces, check that they are not blocked by snowdrifts when it is safe to go out. Do not use things like generators, charcoal grills or camp stoves inside your home, and protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a detector in your home.
What if my heat goes away?
If your heat goes out, you can take steps to warm your home. Close unused rooms to prevent heat loss, place towels or rags under door cracks and close blinds and curtains to keep the heat in.
Lay up with loose, light and warm clothes, but be careful to avoid overheating, sweat and the cold that comes after.
Watch The Water In Your House
Extreme cold temperatures can cause water pipes to freeze, break or burst. If you expect the temperature to be freezing, leave the water faucets open to continue to drip, keeping the temperature inside your house as warm as you can.
If your pipes freeze, do not thaw them with a torch.