Genesis Offers Tips On Surviving And Thriving During Winter Storms
The impending Winter Storm Warning for the Quad-Cities region is the
perfect time to review Winter Safety Tips.
A winter storm can mean extended interruptions of power and heat in your
home. Here are tips from Genesis emergency department physicians and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay safe and comfortable in
severe winter weather.
Overexposure to cold temperatures or cold water can be deadly. Here are
some tips for treating overexposure:
Warning signs: Confusion or sleepiness; slowed, slurred speech, or shallow
breathing; weak pulse or low blood pressure; a behavior change; severe
shivering or no shivering; poor control over body movements or slow
What to do: Get the victim into a warm room or shelter; remove clothes
from the victim if they are wet; warm the center of the body first – chest,
neck, head, groin – using an electric blanket if one is available; use skin-to-
skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels; give warm
beverages; get medical attention as soon as possible; if the victim is
unconscious, CPR may be necessary.
Signs: A white or grayish-yellow area on the skin; skin that feels unusually
firm or “waxy’’; numbness.
What to do: Get medical care; if there is no sign of hypothermia or medical
care is not available, get the person into a warm room as soon as possible;
do not walk or use frostbitten extremities; immerse injured area in warm
water; warm injured area with body heat; don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp
or heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator because injured areas can be quickly
Carbon Monoxide Danger
Warning signs of exposure: In low concentrations, fatigue in healthy
people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations,
impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea.
Flu-like symptoms that diminish with exposure to fresh air are a warning
sign. Exposure to very high concentrations can be fatal.
Prevention: Keep gas appliances properly adjusted; use proper fuel in
kerosene space heaters; open flues when fireplaces are in use; do not idle
the car inside a garage; choose appropriately sized wood stoves that are
certified to meet EPA emission standards; make sure that doors on all wood
stoves fit tightly; have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up
central heating systems; do not use outdoor grills for heat or cooking inside
your home; do not run gas-powered generators in your home.
In Your Home
Plan an alternative heat source for your home during a power
outage—secure dry wood for a fireplace or wood stove or kerosene for a
kerosene heater. Do not use outdoor grills for heat or cooking inside your
Put together an emergency box. An emergency box should have blankets
and sleeping bags; matches; dry-chemical fire extinguisher; first-aid kit and
instruction manual; candles; flashlight or battery-powered lantern; battery-
powered radio; battery-powered clock or watch; extra batteries; non-electric
can opener; snow shovel; rock salt; games, playing cards, and books; special
needs items (diapers, hearing aid batteries, medications); food items that do
not require cooking or refrigeration, such as bread, crackers, cereal, canned
foods; water stored in clean containers (at least five gallons per person).
In Your Vehicle
If you must drive, you can prepare your vehicle the same way you would
prepare your home. Here are some tips:
Equip your car with these items: Blankets or a sleeping bag; First-Aid kit;
a can and matches to use to melt snow for drinking water; windshield
scraper; booster cables; road maps or GPS; mobile phone; compass; tool kit;
paper towels; a bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for traction);
tow rope; collapsible shovel; a container of water and high-calorie canned or
dried food and a can opener; flashlight and extra batteries; canned,
compressed air to fix a flat temporarily; brightly colored cloth to attach to the
car to notify others you are there.
Tell someone where you are going if you leave the house during a storm, and
tell them when you expect to return. Falls resulting in injuries are common
on icy drives and streets.
Carry a whistle with you outside if you are at risk for falls. Your car keys can
also provide an alert system by using the “panic button” for your car.
Check on older neighbors and family members frequently.
Seek alternative shelter if you believe conditions in your home are unhealthy
Use a battery-powered or crank-powered emergency radio to stay informed
during a power outage.