Millions of people throughout the U-S are dealing with extremely cold temperatures, high winds and heavy snow. The American Red Cross of West Michigan has some safety tips to keep you, your pets, and your home safe during this winter weather. Kelly Hudson, regional communications officer,shares tips.
COLD SAFETY TIPS
Temperatures are expected to be extremely cold over the next few days and the winds will make it feel like it is below zero. What can people do to stay safe during this winter weather?
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
What kinds of health-related issues should people be watching for if they are spending time outdoors?
• Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
• Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
• The National Weather Service is saying frostbite can happen in as little as 15-30 minutes outdoors.
• Download the American Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores and includes information on hypothermia and frostbite.
What should people do to keep their pets safe?
• Don't forget your pets - bring them indoors. If they can't come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water. Remember, pets can get hypothermia and frostbite, too!
• The American Red Cross has a new Pet First Aid app that can help you assess any medical emergencies and let you know when you should call a vet. The app includes information on hypothermia and frostbite for cats and dogs.
Frozen pipes can become a problem for some folks as the temperatures drop. What should people do to prevent that from happening?
• Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
• Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
SPACE HEATERS, FIREPLACES AND GENERATORS
Heating systems are running at full force and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:
• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
• If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away - things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
• If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
• Use generators correctly - never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
• Don't hook a generator up to the home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
This winter weather could result in the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in areas impacted by the weather. Despite the storm, hospital patients across the country will still need blood. If you are in a region unaffected by the storm, please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets.
• Appointments can be online at www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
• To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
Courtesy: American Red Cross of West Michigan