Be safe in winter weather.
Snow, Ice, Cold, Strong Winds, and Wind Chill...Winter Storms
The Deceptive Killers
The dangers of winter weather and suggests life-saving action YOU can take. With this information, YOU can recognize winter weather threats, develop an action plan and be ready when severe winter weather threatens. Remember...your safety is up to YOU.
Why Talk About Winter Weather?
• Each year, dozens of Americans die due to exposure to cold. Add to that number, vehicle accidents and fatalities, fires due to dangerous use of heaters and other winter weather fatalities and you have a significant threat.
• Threats, such as hypothermia and frostbite, can lead to loss of fingers and toes or cause permanent kidney, pancreas and liver injury and even death. You must prepare properly to avoid these extreme dangers. You also need to know what to do if you see symptoms of these threats.
• A major winter storm can last for several days and be accompanied by high winds, freezing rain or sleet, heavy snowfall and cold temperatures.
• People can become trapped at home or in a car, without utilities or other assistance.
• Attempting to walk for help in a winter storm can be a deadly decision.
• The aftermath of a winter storm can have an impact on a community or region for days, weeks or even months.
• Extremely cold temperatures, heavy snow and coastal flooding can cause hazardous conditions and hidden problems
Heavy snow can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, stranding commuters, closing airports, stopping the flow of supplies, and disrupting emergency and medical services. Accumulations of snow can cause roofs to collapse and knock down trees and power lines. Homes and farms may be isolated for days and unprotected livestock may be lost. In the mountains, heavy snow can lead to avalanches. The cost of snow removal, repairing damages, and the loss of business can have severe economic impacts on cities and towns.
An avalanche is a mass of tumbling snow. More than 80 percent of midwinter avalanches are triggered by a rapid accumulation of snow, and 90 percent of those occur within 24 hours of snowfall.
An avalanche may reach a mass of a million tons and travel at speeds up to 200 mph.
Injuries Due To Ice and Snow
• About 70% result from vehicle accidents
• About 25% occur in people caught out in a storm
• Most happen to males over 40 years old
Winds of 35 mph or more with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to less than
¼ mile for at least 3 hours.
Wind-driven snow that reduces visibility. Blowing snow may be falling snow and/or
snow on the ground picked up by the wind.
Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may
Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
Light snow falling for short durations with little or no accumulation.
Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles and communication towers.
Ice can disrupt communications and power for days while utility companies repair extensive damage.
Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.
Winter storms can generate coastal flooding, ice jams and snow melt, resulting in significant damage and loss of life.
Winds generated from intense winter storms can cause widespread tidal flooding
and severe beach erosion along coastal areas.
Long cold spells can cause rivers and lakes to freeze. A rise in the water level or a
thaw breaks the ice into large chunks which become jammed at man made and
natural obstructions. Ice jams can act as a dam, resulting in severe flooding.
Sudden thaw of a heavy snow pack often leads to flooding
Wind Chill is not the actual temperature but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature.
Animals are also affected by wind chill; however, cars, plants and other objects are not.
Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20° Fahrenheit (F) will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip
of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.
Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. It can kill. For those who survive, there are likely to be lasting kidney, liver and pancreas problems. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the person’s temperature. If below 95°F, seek medical care immediately!
If Medical Care is Not Available, warm the person slowly, starting with the body core.
Warming the arms and legs first drives cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure. If necessary, use your body heat to help. Get the person into dry clothing and wrap in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee or any hot beverage or food. Warm broth is the first food to offer.
Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening. Infants
and elderly people are most susceptible. What constitutes extreme cold varies in different
parts of the country. In the South, near freezing temperatures are considered extreme cold. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to citrus fruit crops and other vegetation. Pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. In the North, extreme cold means temperatures well below zero.
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