Winter Weather Series: Bitter Cold & Wind Chill
With most of the U.S. getting ready for some very bitter cold and very high wind systems, I am sharing some suggestions for beating the winter blues and blahs. With the cold, comes inevitable below average temperatures and exposure to wind chill. Here are some tips and pointers to assist before, during and after a severe cold wave outbreak.
PREPARATION BEFORE A COLD WAVE:
- Make sure your insurance is up to date, and that acts of God are all covered. Proper annual review of your insurance is always an asset, and you should review these with and without your insurance broker to make sure that there are no unpleasant surprises when disaster strikes.
- Make sure that you are in touch with the elderly and disabled people in your life. They require extra attention in any cold spell.
- Make sure that your windows are all working properly and completely closed before bitter conditions set in. Once it is cold, it will be very hard to slide or latch them.
- Make sure all glass panes that are not double-pane or weather resistant, that an extra layer of protection that is available at most home repair centers, is installed on the glass, before the cold snap.
- Make sure that you have had a timely heater check-up with an HVAC professional before the cold snap, or before the season. Cleaning the ducts is a plus.
- Make sure that you have back up space hating available in case of a heater outage.
- Have gloves, multi-layered clothing, as many coats, a snow suit and thermals ready.
- Make sure that you have plenty of salt, sand and/or supplies in order to make sure that icicle melting does not become a major problem. The last thing you need to have happen is for you or another person slip and slide. Make sure that your insurance covers falls in case of a problem—before the storm. Remember, salt does not work in sub-zero the same, it will not melt, but it can etch into the ice to provide more traction.
- Make sure that you have plenty of gasoline in your car. Have safety equipment in the trunk and keep two flashlights, one in the car and once in the trunk. Kitty litter (standard, not clumping) works in case of sliding and getting stuck. Keep a shovel in the trunk. Have your emergency roadside assistance number ready ahead of time.
- Consult your auto’s owners manual before using a gas “Heet” product in order to evaporate water from within the gas due to the cold, and buy the correct product, and use it accordingly.
- The snow will become very hard to handle because of the bitter cold, so take breaks and go inside often, always have a snow removal company on retainer.
- Do plenty of surplus shopping before a cold snap sets in.. Include plenty of food, bottled water, groceries—food and sundries.
- Make sure that your cell phone is properly charged, before any possible outages.
- Make sure that you have batteries, flashlights and emergency first aid equipment.
DURING A COLD WAVE:
- Pay attention to the latest weather reports and make wise decisions.
- Make sure that you are keeping in touch with the elderly and disabled people in your life as often as possible and consider their safety priority number one. They require extra attention throughout any cold spell.
- Even though it’s harder to operate your snow blower, it may require more care as it is a harsher startup, and while operating make sure you blow the snow away from you so the mist of snow doesn’t hit you and further exasperate your thermal conditions. Make sure operation of any mechanical equipment, that you are paying full attention to the equipment despite the frigid temperatures. If a snow blower injury happens, it will be very devastating. A common blower can lead to amputations and even death, so please be very careful.
- Alcohol: Avoid operating equipment, machinery, your car—even in normal conditions—under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is a no-no while being out in the cold—because drinking alcohol in the cold can put you at higher risk for hypothermia, dehydration and injury. Despite the thought of it giving a “warming” effect, it actually does quite the opposite to the body. Alcohol always decreases your core body temperature, even in normal conditions. Intoxication can further your discretion and you may not be able to “feel” a condition from being out in the cold in a timely enough manner to really be safe.
- If you must shovel, try to have someone pay attention to you while out shoveling. If injury happens, time can be of essence, specially in the cold.
- Dress properly. Gloves, boots, and enough clothing to make sure that cold does not become a problem. Three items to pay attention to are:
- Hypothermia, or lowering of or too low of body temperature. If you feel faint or think a heart condition develops due to being too cold, call 9-1-1 and follow doctors orders.
- Frostbite, or a local skin or limb being exposed to too cold a temperature that blood flow is cut off to the limb. If it happens call 9-1-1 and follow doctors orders.
- Make sure ice is covered with sand and/or salt. Make sure that you are very careful not to go down due to a fall, especially in the cold. Lower back injury is the most prominent way of being injured and it definitely isn’t better in cold conditions.
- Never shovel too long in the cold. Pay attention to the condition of all your limbs as you go. If you think you may be coming down with frostbite, desist shoveling and start emergency treatment immediately. If you believe it is frostbite, make arrangements to to the the emergency room or call 9-1-1. Always be properly clothed, and a snow suit isn’t a bad idea. If you have any chest pains or breathing problems, stop shoveling immediately, go inside and assess whether to call 9-1-1.
- For your auto, using a gas “Heet” product in order to evaporate water from within the gas due to the cold is not a bad idea. As stated above, always consult your auto’s owners manual before using any product for compatibility.
- Start all of your cars once daily at 0°F, more times in lower negative temperatures for a minimum of 5 minutes. It serves to get the oil viscosity to be not so thick to start, and puts a charge back in to your auto battery.
- Use gloves while using a brush and window scraper for your windshield, to try to minimize risk of frostbite. Try to make sure you are not sealed out of your car, from ice or other elements. Use your safety equipment, shovel, flashlights, kitty litter if you slide or get stuck.
- If you get stuck, call for emergency roadside assistance as soon as possible in order to get the heat on in the car.
- Make sure that no liquids with water in them are left out in the car or garage, as the cans or bottles may explode.
- Make sure you do not run space heater unattended or overnight or while napping.
- If your power goes out, all land-lines usually won’t work, so you will probably have to use your properly charged cell phone. Make sure that you have outdoor clothing available in order to wear indoors if the power is out for an extended time period.
- If your power goes out, call the power company, and make sure that devices using gas and electric are not used. Always smell for natural gas, and if it is present, turn the gas off at the main and call the gas company. Frigid temperatures are times that if you elected to buy into a power back-up generation system, you will be so glad that you did
- It is always a handy item to take before photos for your information and insurance purposes. Keep them current and up to date as much as possible. They may be necessary to assist your later damages from the storm.
- If you do have a problem, take photos, and save them to consult after the storm with your insurance agent.
Save calling police and fire for emergencies calls only. Don’t call them for maintenance or city public works related issues. Keep the emergency numbers open for persons having real emergencies. Here are some survival tips:
- Stay informed by monitoring the storm by radio, and if power is still an option, plug in the TV, and/or internet. A battery operated NOAA weather radio is most helpful.
AFTER A COLD WAVE:
- Access any and all damages carefully and pay attention to safety.
- Make sure that you have kept in touch with the elderly and disabled people in your life to make sure that they have made it all the way through any cold wave. They will continue to love and appreciate that you have showed them the love and care they deserve.
- Call insurance and only follow the following tips after proper accessing has been done, and don’t forget to take photos first before you fix damages. keep all receipts for supplies, fixing–for insurance or to claim a loss.
- If you had to turn off any utilities, access the possibility and turn on utilities ONLY if possible.
- Make sure that you replenish salt as the snow or ice melts and once the weather turns for a thaw, they will help assist with general safety. Repeat the above “during the storm” tips as necessary until a complete thaw.
- Check up on the sump pumps and drains, and make sure they are operating properly, so that a thaw can terminate on a good note.
- Continue to make frequent checks on the outside drainage similar to that of during the storm. Blocked sewer can be devastating, particularly if the thaw ends and the cold starts up again.
- If there is any damages, it may take several weeks to dispose of refuse, make sure if any waste is hazardous to dispose of properly.
- Have any property that is not functioning maintained or replaced as necessary.
- Fix the decor to return everything to it’s normal state.
RESOURCES & RECOVERY AFTER DISASTER: THE HOME & FAMILY + FINANCIAL TOOLKIT:
There are many disaster and emergency preparedness and assistance resources available for you to help you through the hard times rebuilding:
- American Red Cross: redcross.org
- American Red Cross – Contact and Locate Loved Ones: redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief/contact-and-locate-loved-ones
- American Red Cross – Find an Open Shelter: redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery/find-an-open-shelter
- American Red Cross – Safe and Well: 1-800-RedCross (1-800-733-2767)
- Apps – American Red Cross: redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps. Separate apps cover the subjects of: blood, earthquake, emergency, first aid, flooding, hero care, hurricanes, pet first aid, tornadoes, and wildfires.
- Pet owner disaster preparation and assistance (ASPCA): aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/aspca-mobile-app. This can assist with personalized missing pet recovery kits, creating digital lost pet flyers that can be shared instantly on the user’s social networks, advice on what to do with your pet before, during and after a storm or natural disaster, and the ability store a pet’s vital medical records and dietary needs, which can shave off precious time in the event of an emergency. This information can be easily stored and shared for your convenience as well.
- DisasterAssistance.gov: disasterassistance.gov provides information on how you might be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during and after a disaster. If the President makes help available to individuals in your community after a disaster, you can visit this site to apply online.
- Disaster Distress Helpline: disasterdistress.samhsa.gov SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters and is dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.
- Call: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): fema.gov FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
- Military OneSource: militaryonesource.mil Offers various articles and resources for emergency preparedness and natural disasters.
- Money Management in Times of Disaster: personal-finance.extension.org/money-management-in-times-of-disaster with information about Money Management during times of disaster:
- Money management in times of disaster: Preparation
- Returning to your damaged home
- Managing finances and making decisions after a disaster
- Ready.gov: ready.gov Ready is a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation. Ready and its Spanish language version Listo ask individuals to do three key things: (1) build an emergency supply kit, (2) make a family emergency plan and (3) be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses.
- Sesame Street (Emergency Toolkits): sesamestreet.org/toolkits/emergencies has simple and easy resources to help you help children and others recover from an emergency.
- The National Terror Alert Response Center: Nationalterroralert.com is a private homeland security blog and not affiliated with any government agency. We archive and comment on homeland security related news items from a variety of news sources and tips, as well as provide immediate updates on breaking stories, bulletins and any change in status to Homeland Security advisory. Nationalterroralert.com has become America’s leading source for homeland security news and information. A collaborative resource of news and analysis related to homeland security events, threats and trends. The National Terror Alert Response Network promotes homeland security emergency preparedness through awareness, education, community involvement and partnerships between individuals, groups and organizations. We strive to chronicle homeland security related news, trends and events in an effort to create national awareness and focus. It is our belief that through education and awareness some instances of terrorism may be prevented and through preparedness lives can be saved.
- TriCare: tricare.mil/disasterinfo In the event of a natural disaster, TriCare US Family Health Plan will post disaster-related information on their homepage. It’s important to know that your TriCare benefits will be maintained during any time of crisis. In the event of evacuation, please take the necessary precautions. In the case of an emergency, dial 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room. Click on an icon below (on the TriCare website) to read alerts and emergency information in your area.
- TriCare emergency prescription refills: At times during emergencies, TriCare may authorize early refills for prescriptions. You will be notified via this site if early refills re authorized. TriCare officials remind beneficiaries that early refills are only authorized for beneficiaries who specifically indicate they are impacted by the emergency event.
When disaster strikes, this list helps assist you in getting the help and assistance that you need in order to put your life back together.
Bitter winter cold conditions are a nasty fact of life, but truly is a part of life that all have to deal with, given being from the north. They are not going away, and we need to be prepared, and be safe.
FIND YOUR LOCAL NOAA.com WEATHER RADIO STATION:
FIND YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST:
VersaTileer PREPAREDNESS/COMMONSENSE TIPS & POINTERS: