By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer
According to the National Weather Service, the coldest air of the season will arrive this weekend, and after a brief warm-up, will return by the middle of next week, with below-zero wind chills possible. High winds are also expected, with gusts as high as 32 mph tonight. The Northern Ohio region of the American Red Cross offers tips and resources to stay safe during this arctic blast.
Now that a winter storm is arriving, here are some tips.
Keep warm and informed
- Stay indoors and wear warm clothes as much as possible. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing are best.
- Eat regularly and drink fluids. Food provides the body with energy to produce heat, and fluids prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, however. Caffeine accelerates symptoms of hypothermia while alcohol slows circulation; both can cause dehydration.
- Layer clothing when outside, and wear mittens or gloves and a hat. Frequently change wet clothing.
- Protect your lungs from severely cold air. Cover your mouth, avoid taking deep breaths, and minimize talking.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
- Walk carefully on icy ground.
- Make sure animals are safe and have access to non-frozen water and shelter.
- Keep informed by listening to local radio, NOAA radio, or TV stations.
- Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or live alone.
- If you need to evacuate, know your route and destination. You can check here for a Red Cross shelter.
- Download the free Red Cross Emergency App.
- Have emergency supplies in your vehicle, including blankets, warm broth in a thermos, water, food, and plastic bags for sanitation.
- Make sure your phone is charged.
- Let someone know your route, destination, and ETA.
- If you become stranded, staying in the vehicle awaiting assistance is often best. Trouble signs like a brightly colored cloth or raised hood can help.
- Running the engine for about 10 minutes each hour can help keep you warm. Keep the exhaust clear of snow.
- Turn on an overhead light when the vehicle is running to be seen.
- Light exercises and movement help keep up circulation.
- Take caution with home heaters, fireplaces, and candles. Keep anything that gives off heat at least three feet away from flammable materials, never plug more than one heating appliance into an outlet, and never leave heaters and flames unattended. Heating equipment is involved in one of every six home fires.
- Also be careful with generators. Keep them outside and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and follow safety instructions. More information on generator safety is here.
- Prevent frozen pipes. Opening cabinet doors lets warm air circulate around plumbing and cold water dripping through a faucet served by exposed pipes can help prevent freezing.