Cold Weather Health Advisory

Cold Weather Health Advisory

Nov 22, 2010

Spokane Regional Health District Issues Cold Weather Health Advisory

SPOKANE, Wash. – Nov. 22, 2010 – With temperatures expected to plummet in the next few days, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is issuing this health advisory to warn the community about the dangers of exposure to cold conditions. Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected.

"Taking preventive action is the best defense against extreme cold-weather conditions," said Dr. Joel McCullough, SRHD public health director. "By preparing for winter emergencies, the risks of weather-related health problems can be reduced. Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others." 

According to the National Weather Service, cold arctic air is in the process of moving into the area. High temperatures by Tuesday, Nov. 23, will only reach 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Low temperatures will fall into the single digits Tuesday and Wednesday, with many locations falling below zero. The accompanying winds of 15 to 25 MPH will drop wind chills into the teens below zero.

Extreme cold provides a dangerous situation that can result in health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter or who are stranded, or who live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible. 

The National Weather Service has also issued a blizzard warning in effect from 7:00 p.m. tonight to 10:00 a.m. PST, Tues., Nov. 23. Falling and blowing snow and poor visibility are likely. This will make travel extremely dangerous.

Preparing for winter storms

  • Listen to your radio or television for winter storm forecasts and other information.
  • Have appropriate cold weather clothing available.
  • Make sure your fireplace functions properly.
  • Have rock salt and sand on hand for traction on ice.
  • Fill your gas tank before the snow starts falling.

During a winter storm

  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, light weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens rather than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from extremely cold air.
  • Do not drive unnecessarily.
  • Use alternative heat methods safely.
  • Be careful when shoveling snow. Do not overexert yourself.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia — slurred speech, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness and body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • If you become trapped outside, get out of the wind and stay dry. Build a lean-to or snow cave if nothing else is available. Do not eat snow; it will make you too cold.

If in your vehicle

  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.  Include a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food that can be eaten without being cooked. Include a blanket or sleeping bag for each passenger, a flashlight, cell phone, shovel, sack of sand or kitty litter, booster cables, flare, coffee can with lid and toilet paper.
  • Make sure someone knows where you are going. Stay on the main roads.
  • If you must stop, remain inside the vehicle. Use a bright distress flag or your hazard lights to draw attention to your vehicle.
  • If trapped in a blizzard, clear your tail pipe and run your engine and heater for 10 minutes every hour. Open your window slightly.
  • During night hours, keep the dome light on in the car so rescue crews can see your vehicle. 

More information can also be found at