Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Dangers of Hypothermia & Carbon Monoxide - Be safe!



So many unique cold weather activities combined with the holiday season, winter can be a joyous time. Many parts of the country are blanketed with dazzling white snow. Sports lovers enjoy an abundance of skiing, ice skating, and sledding. All ages love building snowmen and snow forts for spectacular snowball fights. Winter is fun only so long as you can safely retreat from the cold when needed.

Personal Safety and Warmth The simplest action you can take to stay warm is to add layers of clothing, so be sure to store the clothing you may need in your car while traveling. Cover your

hands, head, face, and feet properly too. Gloves, scarf and boots are a must as well as dry warm, dry socks. Layering properly involves three types of clothing. Your first layer should be made of a fabric that will wick your perspiration away from your body and keep you dry. Thermal, or “long,” underwear is generally best for this layer. The second layer is the insulating layer. The purpose of this layer is to trap your body heat. Fabrics such as fleece or wool are generally best for this layer. The third layer is for protection against the weather. This layer should be of a fabric that will repel outside moisture, but still allow your sweat to evaporate.

Warm and Safe Accommodations

If you have power during an emergency, consider inviting family or friends to stay with you until their power is restored. If you lose power and it is possible for you to travel safely, you should consider staying with family or friends who have electricity or you could stay in a designated public shelter.

Take steps to protect your water pipes from freezing. First fill containers with water for drinking

in case you are without power for an extended period. You can also fill a bathtub with water to use for flushing toilets. Then, shut off the water supply to your house by closing the water supply inlet valve. If you are not able to shut off the water coming into your house, you should slightly open all the faucets in the house so that there is a slight trickle of water coming out of the faucets. Flowing water will not freeze as quickly as standing water. If you have a generator you can use it to power electric space heaters, depending on its power output. Prepare in advance and have ready at least ten gallons of gasoline, stored in approved containers. Remember to never operate a generator inside the home or garage.

You can provide heat with fireplaces, propane / kerosene heaters, or wood stoves. Don’t attempt to heat your entire home during the emergency. It will be more efficient and will make your heating fuel supply last longer if you block off rooms that do not need to be heated and stay in one room during the emergency.

Breath Easy

Make sure that they are properly vented and have a battery-operated carbon monoxide (CO) in the room. CO poisoning kills an average of 430 people every year. CO poisoning can result from the use of improperly vented heating equipment or vents that are clogged or leaky. This includes cracked or blocked chimneys. You cannot see or smell CO. Hypothermia and CO poisoning are both sneaky and deadly. The fumes may be fatal before anyone realizes there’s a problem. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide, get into fresh air immediately and seek emergency medical care.

The two main threats you will face during a winter storm power failure are the cold and the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Become familiar with the symptoms of both and seek medical attention as quickly as possible if you notice the symptoms of either condition. The invisible killer, carbon monoxide poisoning, can be especially dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated.

Additional Information

Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothermia/basics/definition/con-20020453
Guard against CO poisoning http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carbon-monoxide/basics/definition/con-20025444
Cold weather clothing tips http://www.army.mil/article/66527/Fight_the_Freeze/.
Safe generator operation http://www.redcross.org/news/article/RedCross-Offers-Safety-Steps-for-ExtremeCold.
Safe space heater operation http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/pdf/extreme-cold-guide.pdf.

This guide is for informational purposes only and does not contain Securitas Canada’s complete policy and procedures.

For more information, contact your Securitas Canada supervisor or account manager at www.securitasinc.ca