Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Disasters that occur in freezing temperatures present their own set of dangers that differ from other disasters. This is because in freezing temperatures frostbite, hypothermia, and death can set in within minutes of exposing the body to such extreme temperatures.
Other dangers such as iced-over and snow-covered, slippery roadways exist, which increases the rate of accidents. Fire disasters in homes and businesses also increase during freezing temperatures because of greater use of fireplaces, and portable heaters. Old furnaces and furnaces with dirty filters can cause disaster fires, and also fill structures with poisonous carbon monoxide fumes which can cause death. Frozen lakes and rivers can cause drowning disasters when the ice breaks, and the sudden submerging of someone into freezing water, quickly leads to hypothermia and drowning before anyone can reach them to help.
Prepare yourself for disasters in freezing temperatures with some preplanning. Make sure your home is insulated well to protect against the extremes of freezing temperatures. Make sure walls and attic have adequate insulation for protection. Check doors and windows in your home and replace caulking and weather stripping where needed. Place storm windows on the outside of your home or use plastic sheeting to insulate windows from the inside. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected before use in winter and freezing temperatures. Place protective insulation around water pipes situated against outer walls. Make sure your snow blower is working. Keep de-icing salt on hand to melt ice from steps, walkways, and drives to prevent slip and fall disasters and severe injuries. Place an outdoor thermometer near a window so you can see it from indoors to know when temperatures dip dangerously low. During a freezing temperature disaster, stay inside your home. Do not open exterior doors and windows to conserve the heat you have in your home. Wear thermal clothing, layered with cotton clothing to keep warm. Have plenty of packaged foods that need no cooking for eating and have a supply of drinking water, and prescription medications as well.
Prepare your car for disasters in freezing weather so that you can survive even if stranded on the roadside for a period of time because of an accident or because the roads are not passable. Fill the reservoirs for your antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, and oil. Completely fill your gas tank and keep it filled. You may also consider adding an ice preventive to your fuel tank to prevent the fuel line from freezing. Install winter tires on your car for better traction and control of your vehicle on slippery roads. Make sure that your brakes, exhaust, lights, emergency lamps, radiator, heater, and defroster all work. Keep these items in your car as preparation for a disaster in freezing temperatures while in your car. Emergency flares for summoning help. A survival pack that includes the following: drinking water, (heat from your heater can defrost frozen water enough for you to drink). Bread, crackers, and energy bars to provide your body with the fuel to help keep your temperature up. Thermal socks and thermal clothing, a cold weather rated sleeping bag and thermal-insulated blankets. Fist aid materials and paper toweling. Tools, snow shovel, ice scraper. Chains, ropes, tire sealant, salt, and kitty litter to help melt ice and provide you with enough traction to get your vehicle back on the road, flashlights, car battery charger, and battery powered radio. It is helpful to carry a cellphone so that you could contact help in a disaster in freezing temperatures.
If you are stranded in your car during a disaster in freezing temperatures, stay put. You will be more visible to passing emergency crews in your care than away from it in whiteout conditions. Staying in your car also protects you should another vehicle slide off the roadway and into your car. Put on the thermal clothing and climb into the cold-weather rated sleeping bag and cover yourself with a thermal-insulated blanket to keep as warm as possible until help arrives. Place a sign in your window alerting emergency crews that you need help or raise the hood of your car. For heating, do not run your car for more than 10 minutes an hour and do not run your heater when the engine is not running as this will drain your battery. Make sure your exhaust pipes are cleared of snow so that carbon monoxide isn’t backing up inside the care where it can make you violently ill or even cause death. Crack a window to ensure that you are getting some cleaner air to breathe. Move your body and extremities every so often to keep the blood circulating properly.
Remain calm by breathing harder and taking more cold air into your body will lower your temperature. You also need to keep your wits about you so that you can spot emergency crews before they reach you and send out a signal to let them know exactly where you are. Use your head, plan ahead for dealing with disasters in freezing temperatures and hold onto the fact that spring will be here before you know it.
About the Author
Craig Elliott is a freelance writer who writes about topics concerning emergency planning, safety preparedness and demonstrations for emergency response such as Safety Training Videos Disaster Preparedness Videos
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