Extreme Cold Weather Safety Guide
Here comes the bitter cold into the Piedmont-Triad area.
But with the cold air comes a reminder to make sure you stay safe from weather-related emergencies from your health to your home and everything in between.
WFMY News 2 has got you covered with what you need to know including: safety and first aid for being in the cold, home heating safety information, and reporting power outages.
Latest Forecast from the WFMY News 2 Weather Team.
FACTS ABOUT THE COLD
Exposure to cold temperatures both inside and outside can cause serious health or even life-threatening problems.
Below you'll find tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep you safe from the cold temperatures.
FACT: Your ability to feel a change in temperature decreases with age.
When going outside make sure you dress warmly – always think layers. You will want to make sure that the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven.
FACT: Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
Also if you can find wind resistant clothing that's a better option to reduce body-heat loss, according to the CDC. Both adults and children should wear the following when going outside:
- Scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
- Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
- Water-resistant coat & boots
- Several layers of loose-fitting clothes
FACT: If you feel too warm, lose extra layers of clothing because excess perspiration will increase heat loss in the body.
Extreme cold could put you at a risk for weather-related health problems or even an emergency.
It doesn't take a long time for symptoms of Hypothermia or Frostbite to appear for those who are exposed to extreme cold. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider, according to the CDC.
FACT: Do not ignore shivering. It's the first sign that the body is losing heat.
Hypothermia Symptoms In Adults
- Shivering, exhaustion
- Confusion, fumbling hands
- Memory loss, slurred speech
Hypothermia Symptoms In Infants
- Bright red
- Cold skin
- Very low energy
*If you notice any of these signs take the person's temperature. If it's below 95° the situation is an emergency – get medical attention immediately.
Hypothermia First Aid
- Begin to warm the person
- Get the person to a warm room or shelter
- Remove any wet clothing
- Warm the center of the body first – chest, neck, head, and groin. Use an electric blanket if you have one available. You can also warm the body with skin-to-skin contact but under dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
- Give the person a warm beverage to help increase the body temperature
- Do not give alcoholic beverages
- Do not give beverages to an unconscious person
- After the body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
- Get medical help as soon as possible
FACT: A person with severe hypothermia could be unconscious and might not have a pulse or even be breathing. In this case call for help and perform CPR. Also continue CPR while warming the victim.
According to the CDC, in some cases, hypothermia victims who appear to be dead can be successfully resuscitated.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It can cause a loss of feeling and color in affected areas.
FACT: Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chins, fingers, and toes.
- White or grayish-yellow skin area
- Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
FACT: A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
Frostbite First Aid
NOTE – Because Frostbite and Hypothermia both result from exposure, it's important to determine first if the victim has signs of Hypothermia. That's because Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical help.
- Get into a warm room
- Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes – this increases damage
- Immerse the affected area in warm but *NOT* hot water. The water temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected areas of the body.
- You can also warm area using body heat like the heat of an armpit
- Don't use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
Home Heating Safety
At home you're turning up the heat, pulling out the heavy blankets, making a cozy fire, or bringing out the space heaters among other ways to stay warm.
FACT: Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February
Space Heater/Portable Heater Safety
Tips provided by the National Fire Protection Association, American Red Cross
- Keep anything that could catch on fire like paper, magazines, newspapers, clothing, bedding, rugs, carpets, mats, curtains, blankets, at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
- Never leave heaters, fireplaces unattended
- Turn off space heaters before going to bed or leaving the house
- Make sure space heaters are placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor)
- Make sure space heaters are in an area where it can't be knocked over
- Supervise when children or pets are in a room with a space heater
- Never put a space heater in a sink or in the bathroom
- Never sleep with a space heater on
- If buying a space heater look for ones that shut off automatically if the heater falls over
- For fuel burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer
FACT:1 in 20 Space heater home fires are fatal
WATCH IT: SPACE HEATER FIRE DEMONSTRATION
Blanket covers a space heater starting fire
Preparing For The Cold At Home
- The extreme cold can cause water pipes to freeze or even rupture inside your home. But there are things you can do at home to help prevent it.
- Leave all water taps slightly open so it continuously drips
- Keep the indoor temperature warm
- Improve the circulation of heated air near pipes. Ex. Open kitchen cabinet or bathroom cabinet doors beneath the sink
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines by following the manufacturer's or installer's directions
- Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed
- Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors
- Close inside valves that supplying outdoor hose bibs
- Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage
- If your pipes freeze, thaw them slowly by directing the warm air from and electric hair dryer onto the pipes
- If you cannot thaw your pipes or if it's ruptured get bottled water or water from your neighbor's house
You can help reduce energy demand during the cold weather. Duke Energy offers tips:
- Reduce thermostats to the lowest comfortable setting when home, and bump thermostats down a degree or two when leaving home.
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Postpone household chores that require electrical appliances
- Unplug cellphone and tablet chargers. These devices draw energy even when not in use.
- Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.
- Leave drapes or blinds open to allow the sun's rays to warm the house
Reporting Power Outages
The low temperatures will put higher stress on mechanical equipment used to generate and deliver electricity. Isolated equipment problems are possible, which could result in unplanned scattered outages.
Customers who experience power outages should call Duke Energy's automated outage-reporting systems for their respective utility:
Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-POWERON OR (1-800-769-3766)
Duke Energy Progress: 1-800-419-6356
Customers may also report an outage or view current outages online.
Check It Out: Cold Weather Child Car Seat Fix!
Don't forget about your pets outside. Pets need to be brought in during the cold weather or you could face legal charges.
Pictures and Videos:email@example.com
► Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WFMY News 2 App now