Top Ten Red Cross Cold Weather Safety Tips

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As temperatures drop this winter, the American Red Cross offers ten steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.

  1. Layer up! Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
  2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets 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.
  3. Remember the three feet rule. 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.
  4. Requires supervision – Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  5. Don’t catch fire! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  6. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes 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.
  7. Better safe than sorry. 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.
  8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  10. Knowledge is power. 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.

For more information on how to stay safe during the cold weather, visit winter storm safety.

You Wore WHAT to Go Sledding?

By PaKou Lee, Social Media Intern

I can’t remember the last time I went sledding. I know it has to be at least more than five years ago because I’ve lived in Green Bay for four years now and I haven’t gone yet. With the holiday spirit still into play, I went sledding with my family two weekends ago. We headed for Triangle Sports Area right on Beverly Road near Baird Creek.

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Look at that view! That’s the hill that my family and I sled on. Can you imagine walking all the way back up after a speedy downhill? Luckily, the park had a tow rope to pull us up!

I was wearing my black, fashionable boots from Target and my toes were feeling super cold already. I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the whole day of sledding. I didn’t think it would be too bad since I haven’t had any issues wearing them when shoveling the snow previously. Little did I know, just how cold it was going to get for my little toes.

After the first down hill and walking back up while dragging the tube, I couldn’t feel my toes anymore. I knew I wouldn’t be able to last another five minutes outside. I had my brother, Pheng, take me home to change my boots. I am so thankful that my niece Nevaeh, 10, and I share the same shoe size (Don’t judge my small feet… we share the same size for only certain types of shoes, haha). I wore her extra snow boots. I made sure to double my socks and changed my jacket too! The zipper was broken so I couldn’t zip at all. My sweater was little protection from the cold. Not sure what I was thinking when I got dressed. Probably because I didn’t have my coffee but I definitely learned my lesson.

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Jada, 6, all ready for a day of sledding and hot coco! Check out her cute owl hat!

So with my learning experience, I want to show you a prime example of what you should be wearing for sledding. Jada, my 6-year-old niece was my sledding partner. She was definitely more prepared than me!

  • Winter jacket
  • Hat
  • Face mask
  • Scarf
  • Mittens/Gloves
  • Snow pants
  • Snow boots
    And of course, always LAYER, LAYER, LAYER!!!

I also want to encourage you to watch a video of Dr. David Markenson, chair of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, provides winter weather tips to keep you safe when you are active outdoors. For more winter weather safety, visit redcross.org.

What’s Included in Your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit?

m8540166_167x82-winter-storm-3The first day of winter is tomorrow but we are definitely getting hit with lots of snow already. Do you have all of the emergency essentials in your car? Having a vehicle emergency kit available is a great way to prepare for any road or winter emergencies. Also, most kits come in convenient sizes to fit in the glove box. Safety should always be the first priority. It’s recommended to avoid the roads, if necessarily. If you have to drive, be cautious; make sure to buckle up and have a full tank of gas also.

The American Red Cross has a list of essentials that should be included in your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell Phone Car Charger
  • Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  • Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf
  • Flares
  • Folding Shovel
  • Sand or Cat Litter
  • Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small battery-operated radio
  • Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Bottled Water
  • High protein snacks
  • Maps
  • Whistle

There are two already-made kits available for purchase on redcross.orgItemImage_580_7193

  • Automobile first-aid zip kit. For $10.00, the kit includes an assortment of bandages, gauze, antiseptic, insect relief pads, sunscreen and sanitizer.
  • Personal Safety Emergency Pack. For $11.00, the kit includes emergency blanket, drinking water, emergency poncho, light stick, whistle, mini first-aid kit and mask.

Know the Difference

  • Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin with 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

Here is a checklist of precautions you can take during this wintery weather! Also for more information on disasters and emergency preparedness, visit redcross.org.

Burrrrr….. Mother Nature is Letting us Know it IS still Winter!

Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. The American Red Cross provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Future Protection

  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
  • Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.
Click HERE to read about additional safety tips to keep you and your family safe!

Burrr —- It’s cold out! What you need to do to Prepare!

We are all heated up waiting for the big game on Sunday, but as temperatures drop this week and wind chill advisory’s dip into the negatives numbers, we need to be prepared. Exposed skin in these temps is susceptible to frostbite in a short period of time. Here are some tips to prevent or watch for to see if you might be experiencing frostbite or hypothermia. 

 
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening. Preventing cold-related emergencies includes not starting an activity in, on, or around cold water unless you know you can get help quickly in an emergency. Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat. Take frequent breaks from the cold. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold. Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.
 
Frostbite is the freezing of a specific body part such as fingers, toes, the nose or ear lobes. 
 
Signals of frostbite include—
lack of feeling in the affected area;  skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue). 
 
What to do for frostbite—
1. Move the person to a warm place. 
2. Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area.
3. Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm.
4. Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings.
5. If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated.
6. Avoid breaking any blisters.
7. Do not allow the affected area to refreeze.
8. Seek professional medical care as soon as possible. Hypothermia is another cold-related emergencies. Hypothermia may quickly become life threatening. Hypothermia is caused by the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body’s warming system. The goals of first aid are to restore normal body temperature and to care for any conditions while waiting for EMS personnel. 
 
Signals of hypothermia include—
shivering, numbness, glassy stare; apathy, weakness, impaired judgment; loss of consciousness. 
 
What to do for hypothermia—
1. CALL 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
2. Gently move the person to a warm place.
3. Monitor breathing and circulation.
4. Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed.
5. Remove any wet clothing and dry the person.
6. Warm the person slowly by wrapping in blankets or by putting dry clothing on the person. Hot water bottles and chemical hot packs may be used when first wrapped in a towel or blanket before applying. Do not warm the person too quickly, such as by immersing him or her in warm water. Rapid warming may cause dangerous heart arrhythmias.  Warm the core first (trunk, abdomen), not the extremities (hands, feet). This is important to mention because most people will try to warm hands and feet first and that can cause shock