Cold Weather Safety


If you must go outside...

Observe the following safety measures:

Avoid overexertion. Cold weather itself, without any physical exertion, puts an extra strain on the heart. If you add to this the strain of heavy physical activity such as shoveling snow, pushing an automobile or even walking too fast or too far, you risk damaging your body.

Dress warmly in loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat. Protect your face and cover you mouth to protect your lungs from very cold air. Wear mittens instead of gloves -- they allow your fingers to move freely in contact with one another and will keep your hands much warmer.

Watch for frostbite and other symptoms of cold--weather exposure. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, tip of nose, ear lobes. If such symptoms are detected, get medical attention immediately. Do no rub with snow or ice -- this does not help the condition and, in fact, will make it worse. The best treatment for frostbite is the rewarming of the affected tissue.

Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes the body to lose its heat more rapidly -- even though one may feel warmer after drinking alcoholic beverages.

Keep yourself and your clothes dry. Change wet socks and all other wet clothing as quickly as possible to prevent loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

Signs of cold weather exposure...

When the body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce it, a condition called hypothermia begins to develop. The symptoms become very apparent, and include:

  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Vague, slow, slurred speech
  • Memory lapses; incoherence
  • Immobile, fumbling hands
  • Frequent stumbling; lurching gait
  • Drowsiness
  • Apparent exhaustion; inability to get up after a rest

Treatment for cold weather exposure...

If a person shows any signs of overexposure to cold or wet and windy weather, take the following measures -- even if the person claims to be in no difficulty. Often the person will not realize the seriousness of the situation.

  • Get the person into dry clothing and into a warm bed or sleeping bag with a "hot" water bottle (which should actually be only warm to the touch, not hot), warm towels, heating pad, or some other such heat source.
  • Concentrate heat on the trunk of the body first -- that is, the shoulders, chest and stomach.
  • Keep the head low and the feet up to get warm blood circulating to the head.
  • Give the person warm drinks.
  • Never give the person alcohol, sedative, tranquilizers or pain relievers. They only slow down body processes even more.
  • Keep the person quiet. Do not jostle, massage or rub.
  • If symptoms are extreme, call for professional medical assistance immediately.

In addition to the obvious inconveniences snow, ice and cold weather cause they can also have deadly consequences. It is important that you:

  • Keep your driveway and walks clear so that firefighters and medics can reach your house if you need them.
  • Ensure all private roads are kept clear so fire apparatus and ambulances can reach your home.
  • Remove all snow and ice adjacent to emergency exits, especially those exits that are infrequently used.
  • Keep snow and ice cleared from outside stairs.
  • If a major storm occurs the fire hydrants nearest your home should be kept clear so that firefighters can readily locate and use it.
  • Ensure your pets are kept safe and secure when outside temperatures are below freezing.

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