Snowstorms and Extreme Cold

Reviewed Apr 3, 2017

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Summary

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio

Before s snowstorm and extreme cold

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service. Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Winterize your vehicle

Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

  • Antifreeze levels: Ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system: Ensure they are in top condition and battery terminals are clean.
  • Brakes: Check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system: Check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters: Replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Heater and defroster: Ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights: Check for serviceability.
  • Oil: Check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat: Ensure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment: Repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Matches
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blanket(s)
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Fluorescent distress flag

Winterize your home

  • Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows or cover windows with plastic to extend the life of your fuel supply.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Vent all fuel-burning equipment to the outside, and keep the vents clear.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow—or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

During a snowstorm or extreme cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite, including loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • If you must drive: Travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

After snowstorms and extreme cold

  • If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
  • Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

Learn from every storm

  • Restock your emergency supplies to be ready in case another storm hits.
  • Assess how well your supplies and family plan worked. What could you have done better?
  • Take a few minutes to improve your family plan and supplies before the next winter storm hits.
  • Talk to your neighbors and colleagues about their experiences and share tips with each other.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.ready.gov/winter-weather

Summary

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio

Before s snowstorm and extreme cold

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service. Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Winterize your vehicle

Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

  • Antifreeze levels: Ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system: Ensure they are in top condition and battery terminals are clean.
  • Brakes: Check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system: Check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters: Replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Heater and defroster: Ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights: Check for serviceability.
  • Oil: Check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat: Ensure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment: Repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Matches
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blanket(s)
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Fluorescent distress flag

Winterize your home

  • Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows or cover windows with plastic to extend the life of your fuel supply.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Vent all fuel-burning equipment to the outside, and keep the vents clear.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow—or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

During a snowstorm or extreme cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite, including loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • If you must drive: Travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

After snowstorms and extreme cold

  • If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
  • Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

Learn from every storm

  • Restock your emergency supplies to be ready in case another storm hits.
  • Assess how well your supplies and family plan worked. What could you have done better?
  • Take a few minutes to improve your family plan and supplies before the next winter storm hits.
  • Talk to your neighbors and colleagues about their experiences and share tips with each other.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.ready.gov/winter-weather

Summary

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio

Before s snowstorm and extreme cold

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service. Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Winterize your vehicle

Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

  • Antifreeze levels: Ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system: Ensure they are in top condition and battery terminals are clean.
  • Brakes: Check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system: Check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters: Replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Heater and defroster: Ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights: Check for serviceability.
  • Oil: Check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat: Ensure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment: Repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Matches
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blanket(s)
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Fluorescent distress flag

Winterize your home

  • Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows or cover windows with plastic to extend the life of your fuel supply.
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Vent all fuel-burning equipment to the outside, and keep the vents clear.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow—or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

During a snowstorm or extreme cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite, including loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • If you must drive: Travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

After snowstorms and extreme cold

  • If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
  • Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

Learn from every storm

  • Restock your emergency supplies to be ready in case another storm hits.
  • Assess how well your supplies and family plan worked. What could you have done better?
  • Take a few minutes to improve your family plan and supplies before the next winter storm hits.
  • Talk to your neighbors and colleagues about their experiences and share tips with each other.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.ready.gov/winter-weather

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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