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Cold Weather Facts for Disaster Preparation

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As you're headed out the door this winter remember preparing for cold weather can help make a difference.

Winter Storm Watch

When severe winter weather threatens your area, a Winter Storm Watch is generally given. If you plan to be outdoors for a long time period or plan to travel, be sure to keep an eye out for changing weather conditions.

Winter Storm Warning

A Winter Storm Warning means that severe winter weather conditions have been spotted and are on the way to your area. Travel plans should be minimized if possible.

Blizzard Warning

A blizzard warning means large amounts of falling or blowing snow with winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours. Travel is not recommended during a Blizzard Warning, you should remain indoors.

Wind Chill

Wind can pose a hazard to you and your skin during winter season. Wind Chill Equivalent Index is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when temperature and wind speed are combined. When winds combine with freezing temperatures the result is an air temperature that can feel about 35 degrees colder.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, nose or ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness and exhaustion are symptoms of hypothermia. If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, you should:

  • Begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance.
  • Warm the person's upper body first. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.
  • Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine or alcohol in it. Caffeine can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

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