Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and lightning strikes – these are all forms of extreme weather events that kill people every year. But these are all loud and noisy weather events. They get lots of attention. And for the most part, people understand the threats that these weather events present.
But there’s another type of extreme weather that garners much less attention, but is no less deadly: cold weather.
That’s because cold weather kills in much less spectacular fashion than other extreme weather events. The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as “deceptive killers.”
And yet cold weather can be very deadly.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, well over a thousand people are killed every year by cold weather. That’s more than the death toll from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and lightning strikes combined.
Do you know how to protect your family from the potentially deadly effects of winter weather? Here are a few tips from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for avoiding becoming a winter weather statistic:
Stay Indoors. Stay indoors and off the roads during severe winter weather events. Common sense advice, right? Maybe not so common, because lots of people gamble with their lives every winter by needlessly venturing out during severe weather. If you do venture out on the roads, let someone know where you’re going, when you expect to arrive, and your route of travel.
Stay Dry. If you’re outside during cold weather and your clothing becomes wet, you’re at risk. That’s because wet clothing loses all insulating properties, and rapidly wicks your body heat away. And that puts you in danger of becoming hypothermic.
Watch For Frostbite. If you’re outside for extended periods or during extreme cold snaps, stay alert for signs of frostbite. Frostbite appears as a pale, whitish coloring on the affected area, and frostbitten body parts will also often feel numb. Extremities such as fingers and toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose are most vulnerable.
Avoid Hypothermia. Hypothermia is the most deadly of winter weather dangers, accounting for hundreds of deaths annually. Indications of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation or incoherence, drowsiness or exhaustion, and slurred speech.
Use Caution With Portable Heaters. Heaters that burn combustible fuels such as kerosene and propane kill people every winter through a build-up of toxic fumes. If you use these types of heaters, maintaining adequate ventilation is absolutely essential.
Wintertime Survival is in Your Hands…
Cold weather doesn’t get the attention that Mother Nature’s more raucous weather events attract. But it’s more deadly than almost all other weather-related events combined.
But unlike events such as tornadoes and hurricanes, surviving an outbreak of extreme winter weather is more in your hands and less in the hands of fate. Because surviving wintertime weather is less about where you are and when, and more about what you know and what you do.