Health and Safety Tips for Extremely Cold Weather
For Immediate Release: January 15, 2004
Contact: Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON - Cold weather takes on a new meaning with frigid temperatures and below zero wind chills. Extremely cold temperatures may cause power failures and risky driving conditions, but personal health and safety should be important considerations for children and adults, whether in the home or outdoors.
Infants and older adults are particularly susceptible to hypothermia, or below normal body temperature. Infants do not make enough body heat by shivering, and the slower metabolism of an older adult will not create enough body heat if exposed to cold temperatures. Even healthy adults can become hypothermic if not dressed properly for the weather conditions. Wearing warm clothes, keeping babies and older adults in warm rooms, eating well-balanced meals, avoiding alcohol and drinking warm drinks will help maintain a healthy body temperature.
Although extremely cold temperatures are here, you can still prevent cold-related health problems and be prepared for emergencies. Winter survival kits for the home and car are a good start. Some recommendations for a home survival kit include:
- Stock food that doesn’t need refrigeration like baby food and formula, crackers, bread, cereal, canned foods and dried fruit.
- Store extra water for drinking and cooking in clean containers, or buy bottled water. Try to keep a minimum of five gallons per person.
- A good supply of medicines that a family member may need.
- An alternate way to heat your home if there is a power failure, such as a kerosene stove.
- A battery-powered radio and clock, plus plenty of batteries, blankets, a flash light, first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
- If there is a power failure, never leave candles unattended or use charcoal grills indoors.
- If house pipes freeze and water is not available, snow can be melted for water. Bring water to a roiling boil for one minute to kill most microorganisms.
An automobile survival kit may include:
- First aid kit
- A bag of sand or cat litter for traction
- High calorie dried or canned foods and a can opener
- A flash light and extra batteries
- A brightly colored cloth to signal for help
The extremely cold weather won’t last forever, and the lasting impression of cold-related health problems can be avoided by planning ahead. More cold weather health and safety tips can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.