Winter Weather Tips

Winter storms create challenges for everyone. Here's some information to help you stay prepared:

Primary Winter Dangers

  • Strong Winds– Winds can create blizzard conditions with wind-driven snow, heavy drifting and dangerous wind chill. Such winds can knock down trees and damage utility poles and power lines. Coastal storms can cause flooding and beach erosion.
  • Extreme Cold– Prolonged exposure to cold conditions can cause frostbite or hypothermia. Infants and elderly people are most susceptible. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to vegetation. Pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. Long cold spells can cause rivers to freeze, disrupting shipping. Ice jams may form and lead to flooding.
  • Ice Storms– Ice accumulations can bring down trees, electrical wires, telephone poles and lines, and communication towers. Even small accumulations of ice may cause extreme hazards to motorists and pedestrians.
  • Heavy Snow– Snow storms can bring a major city to a standstill. It can strand commuters, stop incoming supplies such as food, and disrupt emergency and medical services. The weight of snow can collapse buildings and break tree limbs. Rural homes and farms can be isolated for days.

Physical Effects

  • Frostbite – Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by that tissue being frozen. Learn more about causes, symptoms, first aid and prevention.
  • Hypothermia – Hypothermia is dangerously low body temperature, below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Centigrade). Learn more about causes, symptoms, first aid and prevention. The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech,drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • Wind Chill– The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill. View a wind chill chart.
  • Overexertion – It is easy to overdo it when shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack, and sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
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