During this prolonged period of cold weather, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Office of Emergency Management recommends that citizens review cold weather safety tips in order to reduce weather-related fatalities and injuries.
Frostbite and hypothermia can result within minutes of exposure to cold temperatures, particularly during low wind chills. Dress warmly by wearing a heavy coat, thick socks, gloves and headwear, making sure to cover the hands, feet and ears. Limit your body’s exposure time to outdoor temperatures. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Signs of frostbite include a loss of feeling and/or white or pale appearance in your extremities. Signs of hypothermia are shivering uncontrollably, experiencing memory loss or disorientation, having slurred speech, or having unusual drowsiness or exhaustion.
Many people use space heaters for supplemental heating during very cold weather. There are several different types of space heaters (electric, kerosene, propane), but none are designed to be used as the sole heating source. If you use a space heater, ensure that: it is UL tested and approved, it is placed three feet away from any combustibles, it is never unattended, and it has a “tip switch” that will shut it off automatically if it is knocked over or falls. Always ensure that your smoke detectors are in working order and never use charcoal or gas grills indoors to heat homes due to the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Being prepared before a storm hits can save your life. Assemble an emergency supply kit for your home, workplace and vehicle. A home and workplace supply kit should include food, water, batteries, flashlights, extra medicine, first-aid supplies, an emergency heating source, battery-powered NOAA weather radio, portable radio, and baby supplies. Be prepared for the potential of losing power for at least three days during winter storms. Fully winterize your vehicle before a storm and include the following items in your vehicle supply kit: food, water, blankets, extra clothing, maps, etc.
For more information on winter weather preparedness, go to the Emergency Management web site