Now that winter is well underway, those of us living in northern climates are facing extremely cold weather conditions and winter storms. This means the scary potential for hypothermia, frostbite and power outages due to heavy snow or ice.
To prepare yourself and your family for potential winter emergencies, keep a kit with the following emergency supplies in stock in your home:
- Blankets, sweaters, hats and gloves, enough for every member of your family to layer up and keep warm (the key to dressing warmly is multiple lightweight layers)
- A flashlight
- Candles, matches and lighters
- Non-perishable food items, such as canned and dry foods
- A manual can opener
- Bottled water (you can also fill reusable containers or jugs with distilled water yourself to avoid purchasing bottled water)
- A battery-powered radio with a clock
- A first aid kit
- Extra batteries for your flashlight and radio
Make sure you periodically test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
If you hear reports of severe weather coming your way, charge your cell phone to full power as soon as possible, in case the power goes out and you are unable to do so later. However, keep in mind that cellular towers may also be affected by winter storms. Keep the gas tank of your car full, as emptier tanks are more likely to freeze.
Remember not to leave your pets outdoors if it is very cold. Consider having a backup power source if anyone in your household is on life support or uses any other medical equipment that requires electricity.
If the power goes out:
- Read the instructions on your generator before using. Never operate it inside your home (not even in your garage), and do not hook it up to the wiring in your home. Gas powered generators emit dangerous carbon monoxide fumes, and therefore cannot be used indoors.
- Kerosene and propane heaters should also not be used indoors, as they also release hazardous fumes.
- Use the outlets on the generator to power anything you want to plug in.
- If you use a fireplace, make sure you have a screen to catch stray logs and sparks. Make sure the fire is completely out before you go to bed.
- Line windows and doors with towels and blankets to help keep the cold out.
- Turn on faucets slightly so they drip; this will help prevent your pipes from freezing.
- If you go outside, steer clear of downed power lines.
Call 911 if you begin to experience any extreme shivering, confusion, dizziness and/or extreme fatigue, as these are signs of hypothermia. Symptoms of frostbite include numbness, and skin that feels waxy or looks discolored. Frostbite also warrants immediate medical attention.
The American Red Cross offers a free First Aid App for advice on steps to take in the event of an emergency.
Stay safe and warm this winter!
-The Alternative Daily