Red Cross offers tips to prepare for cold as temperatures drop

November 19, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 19, 2010

The holiday season in the Pacific Northwest also marks the start of cold weather and flooding.

National Weather Service forecasters said cold air moving into the state in the days ahead could bring a chance of snow at lower elevations. Temperatures in Western Washington could drop into the 20s and 30s into early next week.

The local American Red Cross chapter offered a series of safety tips to endure the cold and prepare for a safe holiday season.

“During the holiday season there is always the possibility of cold weather or flooding,” Susan Pelaez, director of preparedness and community engagement for the local Red Cross chapter, said in a statement. “Any preparation you do today will help your family safely get through the kinds of disasters that strike our area.”

Exposure to cold can cause injury or serious illness, including frostbite and hypothermia. The likelihood of injury or illness depends on such factors as physical activity, clothing, wind, humidity, and working and living conditions, plus a person’s age and overall health.

Red Cross emergency planners offer tips for preparing for cold weather and the holidays:

  • Dress appropriately before going outdoors. The air temperature does not need to be below freezing for someone to experience cold emergencies, such as hypothermia and frostbite. Wind speed can create dangerously cold conditions even when the temperature is not too low. If possible, dress in multiple thin layers so in order to adjust to changing conditions. Avoid overdressing or overexertion; both can lead to heat illness.
  • Keep a winter storm survival kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, food, flares, chains, gloves and first aid supplies. Learn more about making or purchasing a disaster kit here.
  • Holiday traveling and winter can be a dangerous combination. Allow extra time when traveling, monitor weather conditions and adhere to travel advisories.
  • Designate a driver. When attending a party, always designate a nondrinking driver. If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure to offer nonalcoholic beverages available for designated drivers.
  • Buckle up. During the holiday months, people travel more often. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and best way to prevent injury in a motor vehicle collision. Ensure all passengers also wearing seat belts.
  • Be careful with holiday candles. Avoid using candles during parties. Take special care when burning candles and do not leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials. Do not leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles — as well as matches and lighters — out of the reach of children. Never display burning candles in windows or near exits.
  • Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. If guests will be smoking, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check inside and under upholstery — and in trashcans — for smoldering cigarette butts. If you plan to hang stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
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