How ready are you for a major winter storm?
Thanks to the “polar vortex,” many parts of the country are struggling with record-breaking freezing weather, tons of snow, and wind chills way, way below zero. But people are not just facing single-digit, Arctic temperatures –
or road closures, power knockouts, and other inconveniences. More critical are the potential health hazards, especially for children and the elderly, that winter snowstorms of this magnitude bring. So keep safe, stay healthy, by following these tips:
Winterize your car or other vehicle and keep the fuel line from freezing by filling up the gas tank. Winterize your home by putting in storm windows that keep the home insulated. Make sure your chimneys and heating equipment are clean and in good working order – long before winter begins!
Keep emergency supplies of the following: 3 days’ worth of water, 3 days’ worth of non-perishable food, batteries and battery-powered radio, first-aid kit and 7 days’ worth of medications, pet/baby/personal hygiene supplies, blankets and warm clothing, cell phones with chargers, extra cash, copies of vital documents and emergency contact information. And, oh, don’t forget to bring your pets inside and other animals to shelters with drinkable water.
The best way to dress for winter weather is to layer up – this enables you to add or remove clothing to adjust to the temperature or to your activity. Ideally, you should wear three layers: thermal underwear that keeps you dry, warm, and comfortable and transfers moisture from your skin to the fabric; sweaters, sweatshirts or vests that insulate, keeping the cold out and the warmth in; and, lastly, waterproof jackets or other outer garments that protect you from rain, sleet, or snow while still letting you breathe and perspire. Make sure your extremities – your hands and feet – are sufficiently covered and protected from the cold. And never, ever go out without your head covered or you’ll risk hypothermia.
Take into account your medical condition
If you have chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, for example, the cold is not your friend. Try to refrain from shoveling snow. Engaging in strenuous physical activity out in the cold will make your heart work harder to pump blood to your fingers and toes and increase your risk for a heart attack, especially if you already have a history of heart trouble. If you are healthy and absolutely must shovel the snow, remember to stay hydrated (skip coffee), avoid heat loss (stay away from alcohol), take breaks, stop if you experience dizziness, and avoid falling on slippery surfaces by shuffling your feet to maintain balance.
Know how to respond to cold-related emergencies
Lost your power or heat? Know where your designated public shelter is and proceed there pronto. Someone suffering from frostbite or hypothermia? A first-aid class (taken before winter of course!) should give you the skills to deal with the situation. Need to drive somewhere? Don’t – sleet, freezing rain, snow, or dense fog make driving a very dangerous proposition. Elderly/disabled persons need assistance? Help if you can, get someone else to do it if not. Using alternative heating/electricity sources like generators, camp stoves, gas or charcoal-burning devices? Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by installing alarms in the house and putting the units outside the home and away from vents, doors, and windows.
Integrate the best winter driving techniques
Okay, say it’s safe enough to go out and drive. Should you just get into your car and pretend it’s business as usual? Absolutely not! Tire experts offer the following tips to help you stay in control when driving those icy, wintry roads. When you winterize your car, don’t forget to get the best tires you possible can – ones that give you maximum grip and traction. Regularly check your filters, monitor your tire pressure, and wash and wax your car exterior to ensure protection from the elements.
Avoid cruise control in winter conditions – this enables you to effectively accelerate or decelerate as needed. Meanwhile, the AAA recommends the following for driving in the snow: Drive slowly – accelerate slowly to maintain traction and avoid skids, decelerate slowly because it takes time to slow down on icy roads. Use threshold breaking to stop – apply strong, steady pressure on the break pedal with the ball of your feet, while keeping your heel on the floor. Don’t make full stops (keep rolling instead), especially when going up a hill – because you’ll need a whole lot of inertia to get moving again!
You deserve it. You’ve survived a whole lot of snow and cold. If you have a fireplace, build a fire, or turn on that good old heater. Get some blankets and snuggle up with a loved one. If you drink, pour that expensive cognac you’ve been saving for just this occasion. Or even a hot cocoa or a pumpkin-spiced latte will do. To complete this winter tableau, take a long, smooth draw of your Green Smoke® e-cigarette and enjoy the rich flavor and thick wisps of vapor…long into the night.