Winter storms are dangerous for a variety of reasons. They are accompanied by extremely cold temperatures, power outages, icy roads, and large amounts of snow. The combined threats that winter storms bring give it the ability to completely immobilize the areas it hits the worst.

Stay Indoors

Do not go outside of your home during the storm. Stay inside, and don’t risk exposing yourself to the dangerous conditions outside. Keep dry, and change out of wet clothing as soon as you can. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating power and instead will make you even colder by releasing your body heat.

When leaving the house, do not turn off your heat. Keep the temperature to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The heater will have to work harder to heat up your home if the temperature drops too low, a strain that could lead it to conk out, and the safety of any pets or plants in the house will be threatened.

If your pipes freeze, wrap them in rags, open all faucets completely, and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where it is the most exposed to cold.

Be Safe Outdoors

When walking outside, walk slowly and carefully. Slips and falls are the most common injury during the winter months. These injuries are deceptively innocent; a single fall can cause very serious repercussions. Plant your steps firmly and surely, and use hand railings when possible. Those who cannot walk very steadily on their own should not attempt to walk over icy roads.

Shoveling snow is a chore that comes with winter storms. It’s a good and safe practice to shovel your sidewalks and driveways to make walking and driving safer. However, be very careful not to overexert yourself; overexertion could cause a heart attack. Try to push the snow rather than lifting it. If you must lift the snow, do it in lighter loads.

Don’t drive unless you absolutely need to. If you decide to drive, only drive during the daytime, and don’t travel alone. Stay on main roads, and avoid smaller alleyways or short cuts.

Frostbite

Frostbite is painful and scary; it happens when your skin and the tissue right below it freezes. When you have frostbite, you will lose feeling in your extremities (like fingers and toes), and your skin will discolor. Frostbite can cause very serious damage to your skin, tissue, and nerves. As soon as you notice the frostbite, cover the exposed skin immediately. Do not rub the area to try to warm it up; it only worsens it. Seek medical attention right away.

Hypothermia

When your body temperature drops to a dangerously low degree, you will develop hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, dizziness or disorientation, memory loss, slurred speech, and apparent exhaustion. If you suspect that someone has hypothermia, take their temperature right away. If it is below 95 degrees fahrenheit, they need medical attention right away. Move the person to a warm location, and remove any wet clothing. Focus on warming the center of the body first by wrapping blankets around them. If they are conscious, give them warm (non-alcoholic) liquids to drink.

Good luck and stay warm!