When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. Extremely cold temperatures often accompany a winter storm, so you may have to cope with power failures and icy roads.
Although staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce the risk of car crashes and falls on the ice, you may also face indoor hazards. Many homes will be too cold-either due to a power failure or because the heating system isn’t adequate for the weather. When people must use space heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, the risk of household fires increases, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause other serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. To keep yourself and your family safe, you should know how to prevent cold-related health problems and what to do if a cold-weather health emergency arises.
The emergency procedures outlined here are not a substitute for training in first aid. However, these tips will help you prepare for winter storms.
- Add blankets and extra clothing to Family Emergency Kit. Keep rock salt on hand to spread on iced over walkways.
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during very cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Know where the water shut off to the house is located (in case a pipe bursts).
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
- House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Fill your car’s gas tank in case you have to leave.