Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. To keep yourself and your family safe, you should know how to prevent cold-related health problems.
What is extreme cold?
- Near freezing temperatures are considered “extreme cold”
- Whenever temperatures drop below normal and wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly. These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.
Winter survival kit for your home:
- Food that does not need to be cooked or refrigerated, such as bread, crackers, cereal and canned foods
- Water that is stored in clean containers or bottled
- Medicines that you or family members may need
If your region is susceptible to long periods of cold temperatures, or if your home is isolated, stock additional amounts of food, water and medicine.
Emergency Supplies List:
- An alternate way to heat your home during a power failure (dry firewood for a fireplace or kerosene for a kerosene heater)
- Furnace fuel (coal, propane or oil)
- Electric space heater with automatic shut-off switch and non-glowing elements
- Multi-purpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Battery-powered radio
- Battery-powered clock or watch
- Extra batteries
- Non-electric can opener
- Snow shovel
- Rock salt
- Special needs items (diapers, hearing aid batters, medications, ect.)
Prepare your car for winter:
- Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends
- Have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester
- Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture
- Replace any worn tires and check the air pressure in tires
- First aid kit
- Waterproof matches
- Windshield scraper
- Booster cables
- Tool kit
- Paper towels
- Bag of sand (to pour on ice or snow for added traction)
- Tire chains
- Collapsible shovel
- Container of water and high-calorie canned or dried foods
- Flashlight and extra batteries
Preparing for Extreme Cold in Spokane!
Stay Safe and Healthy
Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite.
- When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced
- Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy
- Low body temperature may make you unable to think clearly or move well
Victims of hypothermia are often:
- Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating
- Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
- People who remain outdoors for long periods- the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
- People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs
Warning signs of hypothermia:
- Shivering, exhaustion
- Confusion, fumbling hands
- Memory loss, slurred speech
- Bright red, cold skin
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit , then it is a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. Frostbite mostly affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. It can permanently damage the body and in severe cases can lead to amputation.
Signs of frostbite:
- White or grayish-yellow skin area
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
Often times, a victim is unaware they have frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.
Winter cold kills more than twice as many Americans as does summer heat. (National Center for Health Statistics)