Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Windchill and Hypothermia

Winter in the northeast can be enjoyable with all the wintertime activities. But if you're going to be outside for a while you have to be careful.  This post is on frostbite and hypothermia. 

During the winter we not only have to protect ourselves from the cold but also the wind.  Temperature and wind combine to produce something called the windchill temperature index.

The wind chill factor makes us feel colder than the air temperature really is. This is due to the interaction of air temperature and wind increases the heat loss from your body.. when the air temperature is low wind chill can quickly freeze exposed skin.

Here's a chart that shows the windchill feel like temperature, when we combine air temperature and wind speed.

What happens if you stay outside for too long? First, the parts of your body that are further away from your torso (such as your face, fingers, and toes) will begin to freeze.  This is called frostbite.  Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose.

Here's a image that shows the effects of frostbite.

If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

Hypothermia is a serious medical emergency that occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 95° F (35° C). Your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, and your blood will begin to thicken, making it hard for your heart to pump blood.   Without the proper amount of body heat the heart, lungs, and other organs cannot work correctly. Hypothermia is very dangerous and can eventually lead to death.

Dress for both temperature and wind. You must keep your face covered on  a windy cold day.  before going out into conditions that can cause frostbite and hypothermia, you should dress in several layers of loose fitting, light weight clothing.  The other layer of clothing should be hooded and water and wind repellent.  Remember mittens offer better protection from the cold than gloves.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Preparing your vehicle for winter driving and what to do if you become stranded.

My next post for winter awareness week

When discussing winter travel preparedness, drivers must consider their personal needs, as well as making sure their automobile is ready to face unforeseen conditions.  While avoiding driving in known hazardous conditions is the wisest choice, storms may strike with little or no warning.  Likewise, driving may be necessary.  Time spent in preparation  is your best defense.  If winter weather deteriorates, the prepared driver is less likely to panic and stress out.  Panic and stress are leading factors in making the wrong choice during an emergency.

 Preparing Your Automobile:


Before frigid temperatures set in, have your vehicle prepared for winter driving.  As part of your regular auto maintenance, have the battery condition checked.  Cold weather and a weak battery can leave you stranded. Likewise, winter demands a greater use of lights, so make sure they're working properly. Make sure the tire tread is adequate for the conditions you will be driving in.  Also, make sure all belts and hoses are checked along with routine maintenance.  During winter, you must have a vehicle that will start and not leave you stranded with mechanical failure.  Don't forget to have the cooling system fluid checked.  Drivers should keep the gas tank at least half full, to avoid gas line freeze.  Additive in the gas tank can also keep moisture from freezing in the lines.


Emergency Travel Supplies:


Drivers should consider emergency travel supplies as an essential part of preparing their car for winter driving.  Every driver should consider their personal needs, when preparing emergency supplies. But remember, You can last 3 weeks with little to no food, but you can only last 3 days without water, and only 3 hours without adequate warmth.

If you have a mechanical  breakdown, or become stuck..... many people die each year when they attempt to leave their vehicle during a storm.  Do not leave your vehicle, in search of help.  Your best chance of rescue is to stay with your vehicle. Do not panic.  Tie a red bandanna to your automobile antenna as a signal for help.

Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.....Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

 Here's a list of the essentials you should make sure are in your vehicle.

Have some extra blankets or even a sleeping bag.

Keep some extra clothing  in the car, you may have to dress in layers at some point, also if the clothes you're wearing get wet you will have to change, wearing wet clothes in a freezing situation can be a killer.

Have a flashlight, battery powered radio,  and extra batteries.

Keep some granola bars in the car, or other kinds of non perishable high energy foods. If you become stranded beside the road during a storm you could be there for a while. The bars will keep your energy levels up, keeping you warmer.

Have a knife, this is the most valuable life saving tool you can keep in the car.

Candles, water proof matches, and a wide base can to hold the candle, besides light, it will give off heat.

Bottled water, you must stay hydrated.

 If you have to have special medications, pack enough extra in the event you are stranded away from home. 

 A shovel , flares, kitty litter,  fire extinguisher, jumper cables, and tow rope are a must.

 Something I keep in my SUV is one of those little folding Sterno stoves, with a few extra cans of the Sterno gel fuel ...also remember the can I mentioned above ...it can serve extra duty...by placing snow and ice in it ,you can get fresh water by melting it  on top of the stove....never eat snow/or ice to get fresh water....always melt it first. Also a good thing to have is  a colander in the car to strain the snow.


Something else I keep the glove box is pencils, paper, and a compass.....If heaven forbid you do end up having the hike back to a populated area, it will help you keep your bearing.

These are only my suggestions, you know your personal situation better than I...so include those items you think you may need.......  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter Storm Preparedness.

This week is winter storm awareness week......So I thought would write a post on things you should do and have on hand before the winter storm hits.

Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Some winter storms are large enough to affect several states, while others affect only a single community. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared in order to remain safe during these events.

What do the different warnings, watches and advisories mean?

Winter Storm Outlook - Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.

Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.

Winter Storm Watch - Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.

Winter Storm Warning - Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.


A few things that you can do to prepare for a winter storm.

Have a shovel ready. Even if you live in an apartment.

Make sure your flashlights work and that you have fresh batteries.

A good thing to have is a self powered radio. If you don't have this get a good quality battery powered radio.

Have a good supply of non- perishable foods on hand. Also have a manual can opener.

Have a way to cook food, such as one of those camping stoves.

Have a supply of fresh water. If can be bottled water, or tap water you put in gallon containers. I keep several clean plastic milk jugs on hand.

Fill your bath tub with water...this way you have water for flushing toilets and such.

Make sure you have enough prescription medications on hand to last a few days.

Have a good first aid kit.

If the power goes out cordless phones won't work.... so if you don't have a hard wired phone, make sure you have a way to charge your cell phone that doesn't require electricity.

Fill your car with gas.

If you have pets make sure they have enough food to last 5 or 6 days.

As a young mother, I know baby supplies like diapers and such are a must.

Have some cash on hand, credit cards won't work without electricity.

If you have generators and snow blowers make sure they work and have gas.

Safety note....never run a generator indoors.....make sure it's outside where there is plenty of ventilation.

Also remember It will be winter, so frozen foods can stay outside.  Another thing I do is have a couple of ice chest on hand....that way I can place ice in it...and keep milk and other perishable foods in them.

One last thing....make sure you have a good supply of blankets and warm clothes...you might have to wear a few layers in the house to stay warm......