Be prepared for extreme cold:
- Stay inside during extreme cold temperatures, if possible and have plenty of extra blankets and layers of clothing, even keep extra blankets in your car.
- Dress appropriately when going outside, especially if working outside, wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, and a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Be prepared for car break downs and being stranded outside, e.g. sleeping bag, blankets, and winter gear. If possible, have flares, cones or lights to mark the scene.
- Make sure that your car’s heater and defroster are in good working order, and always keep the gas tank near full to prevent ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Protect outside spigots from freezing by using covers or by turning off the water source; drip all inside faucets and open cabinet doors to circulate heat.
- NEVER run a generator out of garage or in the house.
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature <95 degrees F. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making you unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
The signs and symptoms of the three different stages of hypothermia are:
- First stage: shivering, reduced circulation;
- Second stage: slow, weak pulse, slowed breathing, lack of co-ordination, irritability, confusion and sleepy behavior;
- Advanced stage: slow, weak or absent respiration and pulse.
Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.