Winter Weather and Health Concerns


Winter Driving Safety
If you need to use your car in winter weather, preparation is critical to ensure your safety as driving during these conditions can be hazardous. Before hitting the road, be sure to winterize your vehicle and update the emergency supply kit with the following items:

  • Shovel;
  • Ice scraper and small broom;
  • Blanket; and
  • Emergency flares.

Once your car is ready, follow The Three P’s of Safe Winter Driving provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration for safe driving in winter storms: PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself; and PREVENT crashes on the road. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Familiarize yourself with directions before you go and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time;
  • Maintain a full tank of gas to prevent fuel lines from freezing;
  • Slow down for winter driving conditions, regardless of the type of vehicle you drive;
  • Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and others as it takes more time and distance to stop your vehicle on wet roads; and
  • Do not use cruise control.

Off The Grid
A winter storm has caused a power outage in your home. Now what do you do? Since the length of the outage can vary from a few hours to several days, you need to plan to get by without utilities for at least three days.
Use FEMA’s “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages,” free, online activity module to reference simple steps to get prepared for an outage. This module also provides a food safety reference chart so you can know when to save food or when to discard it. Some utility outage checklist items include:
  • Document important phone numbers and vital power company information;
  • Locate and label your utility shutoffs; and
  • Have your disaster kit ready and stocked.

The “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages” activity module is part of FEMA’s “Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere” tools, which educate individuals about relatively easy steps to take to become prepared for all types of hazards. The tools are designed for anyone to use in coordination with local emergency preparedness partners to help better prepare for emergencies.

Lessons from Atlanta
Last week, Atlanta’s two inches of snowfall caused severe gridlock across the metro area, stranding school children and commuters who were forced to abandon cars on the highway. The CDC discusses the top five lessons learned from this weather event.
http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2014/01/lessons-from-atlanta/

Alternative Route to the Rescue
Your everyday commute may be interrupted by unexpected events preventing you from making it on time to your destination. Recently, many commuters in Atlanta experienced challenges getting home and had to stay put due to winter storm Leon. This is just one event that raised the question, “what do I need if I have to unexpectedly shelter-in-place?”

Maybe it’s not weather that will affect your commute, but a traffic accident that might cause some delay in your day. The best plan is to save time by planning ahead:


Remember the time to plan is now, not later! Visit ready.gov for a list of ways to be prepared for natural disasters. You can also share preparedness tips and thoughts using #PrepareAthon on Twitter or via discussion forums on the National Preparedness Community.

Weathering a Winter Storm
The word "winter" brings many things to mind: cold temperatures, school closings, sledding, slippery roads, fender benders, and treacherous commutes. To better understand the National Weather Service's advisories, watches, and warning notifications, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a helpful guide.
http://www.noaa.gov/features/03_protecting/winter.html

Winter is Coming…Be Ready (CDC Blog)
It’s a great time to make sure you’re ready for cold weather, and the CDC has provided a number of tips to help. http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2013/12/winter-is-coming-be-ready/

Finding Warming Centers

Some parts of the country experience brutally cold temperatures during winter months. When the mercury dips, many communities open warming centers to help people with heating problems escape the frigid weather.
Warming centers can be found in your area library, police station, senior center or school.

Operating hours and accommodations at warming facilities vary; so check with the facility before you go. It’s a good idea to bring your disaster supply kit with you. Items in your kit can make your visit to warming centers more comfortable, especially if your visit extends for several days.

Many open centers coordinate with the federally mandated phone information system to communicate availability information. Locate a warming center near you by calling 2-1-1 or 3-1-1. You can also use these services to request a well-being check for someone who may be suffering from extreme weather, reporting inadequate heating in a residential building and more.
Another way to find shelters is through FEMA’s text message program. Just text SHELTER and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - A Silent Threat
The colder winter temperatures unfortunately result in increases in carbon monoxide poisoning. Many people were sickened or killed by carbon monoxide poisoning last year after Hurricane Sandy. Please visit the National Public Health Information Coalition website to access a toolkit on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention.

Additional Information
Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp
Winter Weather FAQs
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/faq.asp

CDC Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Homepage
http://www.cdc.gov/co/default.htm
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Disaster
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/carbonmonoxide.asp
Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning After a Disaster
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.asp
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Clinical Education
Clinical education and online course on Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.
http://www2a.cdc.gov/phtn/COPoisonPrev/default.asp

Winter Weather: Hypothermia
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/hypothermia.asp
Hypothermia-Related Deaths --- United States, 1999--2002 and 2005
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5510a5.htm
Winter Weather: Frostbite
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/frostbite.asp

CDC Power Outages Homepage
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/
What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/needtoknow.asp

Be Prepared: Staying Safe and Healthy in Winter Weather
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/WinterWeather/

Off The Grid


A winter storm has caused a power outage in your home. Now what do you do? Since the length of the outage can vary from a few hours to several days, you need to plan to get by without utilities for at least three days.

Use FEMA’s “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages,” free, online activity module to reference simple steps to get prepared for an outage. This module also provides a food safety reference chart so you can know when to save food or when to discard it. Some utility outage checklist items include:

  • Document important phone numbers and vital power company information;
  • Locate and label your utility shutoffs; and
  • Have your disaster kit ready and stocked.

The “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages” activity module is part of FEMA’s “Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere” tools, which educate individuals about relatively easy steps to take to become prepared for all types of hazards. The tools are designed for anyone to use in coordination with local emergency preparedness partners to help better prepare for emergencies.