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Extreme Temperatures: Cold and Winter Weather

Emergency Preparedness - Ready Raleigh Guide


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Before extreme cold and winter weather During extreme cold and winter weather Extreme Cold-related Illness

Before extreme cold and winter weather

 If you are under a Winter Storm Warning, find shelter right away! 

  • Stay off roads.
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • Prepare for power outages.
  • Use generators outside only and away from windows.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  •  Check on neighbors.

Risks from extreme cold and winter weather

  • Hypothermia (risk can be increased by windchill, which accelerates heat loss from the body)
  • Frostbite
  • Pipes may freeze and burst
  • Car accidents as roads become difficult to navigate due to ice and/or snow 
  • Ice storms and snowstorms can knock down trees leading to loss of power, heat and communication.

Before extreme cold and winter weather

  • Know your area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time. 
  • Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.
  • Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.

During extreme cold and winter weather

  • Stay off roads if possible.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven. 
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and begin treatment right away.
  • Check on neighbors. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.

Extreme Cold-related Illness

Know the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia

Frostbite

  • Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes.
  • Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin
  • Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.

Hypothermia

  • Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
  • Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness
  • Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first - chest, neck, head and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.
Department:
Emergency Management and Special Events
Service Categories:
Emergency Management

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