On January 3, 2018

Prepare for the deep-freeze

Subzero temperatures are forecast for Vermont over the next several days. Wind chills are expected to reach 20 to 30 degrees below 0 F. in areas of the state. Hypothermia, frostbite, and other hazards are a serious concern in these conditions.

The state recommends the following actions to keep yourself, your household, pets and your property safe.

  • Be a good neighbor. Check on older or disabled relatives, friends and neighbors to make sure they are keeping warm safely and have sufficient food and water.
  • Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a winter emergency car kit including blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshield scraper, shovel, sand, towrope and jumper cables.
  • Limit time outdoors. Minimize outside activities, particularly with the elderly and very young.
  • Limit your pets’ time outdoors. Even if you consider them “outdoor” pets, provide an enclosed shelter with blankets or straw bedding and provide fresh water and food frequently. A lighted bulb in the shelter can make a difference.
  • Dress warmly and stay dry. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear a hat, mittens, and sturdy waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. Keep babies and older adults dry and in warm rooms.
  • Eat and drink adequately. Well balanced meals help you stay warmer. Stay hydrated and drink warm fluids to maintain core temperature. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages dehydrate and cause you to lose heat more rapidly.
  • Avoid exposure to hypothermia and frostbite. Symptoms of frostbite include a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. Hypothermia signs include shivering, exhaustion, slurred speech and in infants, bright red, cold skin. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately and get to a warm place. Slowly warm the affected areas as you await medical assistance; heating too quickly destroys body tissue.
  • Have sufficient heating fuel for your home, whether it’s oil, propane, wood, wood chips, pellets or electric power.
  • Keep a well-stocked winter home emergency supply kit that includes flashlights, a portable battery-powered or wind-up type radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable food. If you have hurricane lamps, have matches handy and make sure there is lamp oil in the lamps.
  • Heat safely. If you lose your primary heat source, use only safe alternate sources like a fireplace, wood stove or electric space heater and ensure they are venting properly, including through an open window. Keep clothing and furniture away from heat sources. Use firewood only in a fireplace and do not use a fireplace if it has not been used for a long time. Chimney fires are a common hazard.
  • Vent heaters to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. If you use a generator, use it outside, away from open windows, doors or air intakes. Exhaust from a generator or heating source can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) in unventilated spaces. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. CO poisoning can mimic flu-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Higher levels of exposure result in disorientation, drowsiness, unconsciousness and death.
  • Ensure all heating vents to the outside are clear of snow or other obstructions. Blocked vents can lead to CO buildup on the home.

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