Compassion for Life/Disaster Relief Servants

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WINTER WEATHER EMERGINCIES, HYPOTHERMIA AND FROST BITE

 

PREPARING FOR WINTER STORMS:

  • Remember, winter storms can strike anywhere, even where the weather is usually mild. Being familiar with the terminology that the weather service uses will help you know what to expect when weather warnings are issued and pay attention to the forecasts on radio or television.
  • Check all emergency equipment such as generators, flashlights, etc. to ensure that they are in good working condition.
  • If you have heating fuel, make sure you are well supplied since deliveries are hard to make in ice and heavy snow conditions.
  • Stock extra food, especially the type that needs no cooking in case of power outages.
  • If power is out, keep your refrigerator/freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Prevent fires by not overheating your stove, heater or furnace.  Don’t leave fireplaces unattended.  Never put an alternate fuel in kerosene heaters.  Do not leave space heaters unattended or put too close to curtains, furniture, etc.
  • Stay inside during cold snaps and storms unless you are in top physical condition.  If you must go outside, don’t overexert. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.  Layers of clothing trap warm air close to your body.  Outer clothes should be tightly woven, water repellant and hooded if possible.  Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Get your vehicle winterized before the cold season.  Keep the tank full to prevent water from getting into the fuel and causing the engine to stall and strand you.
  • If you must travel when bad weather is forecast, be sure someone knows where you are going and the time you expect to arrive.  Travel with someone if at all possible.
  • Select alternate routes, before you leave, in case your preferred route isn’t passable.
  • Listen to the radio as you travel and heed the weather information.  Seek shelter immediately if the storm seems severe.
  • Carry a winter storm car kit which includes: blankets, flashlights, extra clothing, high-calorie nonperishable food, compass, maps, first aid kit, sack of sand, windshield scraper, booster cables, tow chains, fire extinguisher, tools such as: pliers, screwdrivers, adjustable wrench and flares. If stranded and you have a cell phone or are near a payphone, call for help.

Before traveling, call the Texas Department of Transportation’s statewide road condition update number to ensure safe passage. #1-800-492-9292

HYPOTHERMIA (Low body heat)

SYMPTOMS (May include some or all.):

  • Shivering
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Cold to the touch and bluish
  • Unconscious, may be stiff, rigid, not breathing, have no pulse and appear dead

 

TREATMENT:

  • Remove wet clothing and replace with dry.
  • Call 911 for medical help immediately and handle the victim gently.
  • No alcohol, coffee or tobacco for the victim.
  • Do not rub or massage the victim.
  • Insulate from the cold by covering with blankets.
  • Keep the victim’s head covered, since a lot of body heat escapes through the head.
  • Do not give any warm fluids unless the victim has stopped shivering and is in a normal mental state.

FROST BITE EMERGENCIES
SYMPTOMS (May include some or all of the following.):

  • Cold extremities such as fingers, toes, nose, ears, face.
  • Numbness and clumsiness.
  • Tingling, burning or aching.
  • Pain when affective area is warmed.
  • May look yellow-white or mottled-blue in color.
  • May feel firm on outside, yet soft underneath or it may feel frozen solid.

TREATMENT:

  • All but the most minor frost bite cases requires medical attention.
  • Never allow the affected area to refreeze.
  • Do not give the victim any alcohol, coffee or tobacco.
  • Do not rub or massage the area.

IF NEAR A HOSPITAL:

  • If within an hour of a hospital, transport without re-warming the affected parts.
  • Remove wet, constricting clothing such as rings, jewelry, etc.
  • Pad, splint and protect the affected area.

IF NOT NEAR A HOSPITAL:

  • Re-warm rapidly by thawing the affected area in water in warm, not hot water, about 104 degrees, until the skin is soft, pliable and red. If not near water, place the affected area next to warm body such as the armpit or groin area.
  • Do not break any blisters.  The victim may have a lot of pain during the thawing period. 
  • Do not re-expose to the cold.  If feet or legs have been affected, do not allow the victim to walk in the cold.

 

NOTE: During extreme cold spells in Texas, please make it a practice to look in on your elderly and/or disabled neighbors to ensure their safety.