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Cold Weather Precautions

Cold Weather Precautions
Surviving the cold in Saint Louis County


Find a warming center near you.

General Precautions ...
  • Check daily on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone.
  • The elderly and very young should stay indoors as much as possible. Offer to shop for elderly friends and relatives. Just like in the summer with heat, it takes some time to get acclimated to cold weather.
  • Wear layered clothing outdoors for better protection from the cold. Wear a cap to prevent rapid heat loss from an uncovered head. Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
  • While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 degrees. This is especially important for the elderly and small children to prevent hypothermia.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat high energy foods along with warm beverages and soup.
  • Sleep warm with extra blankets, a warm cap, socks and layered clothing.
  • Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
  • Carry extra clothing, blankets and high energy snacks, such as cereal or candy bars in your car for protection if car stalls. Keep the gas tank near full to prevent icing. Don't travel alone. For referral to many services for the elderly in the community, call the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging at 314-658-1168 or 314-658-1021.
  • Be careful when using fireplaces, stoves or space heaters to stay warm. Carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires are very real winter hazards. For answers to any questions about using space heaters or any other heating method to stay warm, please call the St. Louis Fire Department at 314-289-1920 or your local fire department.
  • For information about emergency shelter, help with heating bills or for any other weather related need, call Operation Weather Survival's Hotline, located at the Human Development Corporation.

Information above from Operation Weather Survival.

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Around the Home ...
  • Keep ahead of advancing winter weather by listening to NOAA Weather Radio.
  • An ice storm will take down power lines, knocking out electricity. Check battery powered equipment before the storm arrives.
  • Check your food and stock an extra supply. If there are infants at home, make sure you have enough infant formula or baby food. Include food that requires no cooking in case of power failure. Make sure pets and animals have shelter and a water supply.
  • Check your supply of heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not be able to reach you due to ice or snow covered roads.
  • Be careful when using fireplaces, stoves or space heaters. Proper ventilation is essential. Don't use charcoal; it gives off deadly amounts of carbon monoxide. Keep flammable material away from space heaters and do not overload electric circuits.
  • Dress for the conditions when outdoors. Wear several layers of light-weight, warm clothing; layers can be removed to prevent perspiring and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, waterproof and hooded. For the hands, mittens, snug at the wrists, offer better protection than fingered gloves.
  • Don't kill yourself shoveling snow. It is extremely hard work for anyone in less than prime physical condition. It can bring on a heart attact, a major cause of death during and after winter storms.

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Automobiles ...
  • Your automobile can be your best friend or worst enemy during winter storms. Get your car winterized before winter arrives. The following items should be checked:
  • ignition system
  • cooling system
  • fuel system
  • battery
  • lights
  • tires
  • heater
  • brakes
  • wipers
  • defroster
  • oil
  • exhaust
    • Keep water out of your fuel tank by keeping it full.
    • If you travel often during the winter, carry a winter stormkit in your car. It should include:
  • flashlight
  • windshield scraper
  • paper towels
  • extra clothes
  • matches/candles
  • booster cables
  • compass
  • maps
  • sand
  • chains
  • blankets
  • high calorie non-perishable food
    • Winter travel by car is serious business. If the storm exceeds or tests your driving ability, seek available shelter immediately.
    • Plan your travel. Try not to travel alone and drive in convoy when possible.
    • Drive carefully and defensively. Pump the brakes when trying to stop on snow or ice covered roads.

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    Winter Safety for Schools ...

    Children can be especially susceptible to the dangers associated with winter weather. Their youthful enthusiasm often takes over when common sense and safety should prevail.

    School administrators and principals need to be sensitive to the dangers winter weather can pose to children and be prepared. Winter weather procedures and practices need to be established before the onset of winter cold. The following few items should be considered when formulating a winter weather safety plan:

    • All schools should have ready access to current weather information. If the school is in a county covered by NOAA Weather Radio, that would be the best source. Commercial radio or television can also be monitored. Arrangements can also be made with local law enforcement agencies to have critical winter weather forecasts relayed to the school.
    • All schools need to have a functional plan in regard to closures due to snow, ice, or extreme cold.
    • During the winter months, guidelines need to be established regarding outside recess. Temperatures and wind chills need to be monitored and criteria set as to when outside recess will be allowed.
    • School bus drivers should receive extra training on driving during winter weather. Snow and ice can often accumulate quickly and unexpectedly on roads creating dangerous driving conditions.
    • With many households having two working parents today, it may be necessary for some children to be brought to school early. Schools should make provisions to allow children inside school buildings as early as possible during cold weather.

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    Extreme Cold ...

    Extreme cold temperatures are a big danger during winter months in Missouri. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, or in extreme cases death. In fact, excessive cold is one of the leading weather-related causes of death in the state. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to extreme cold. Freezing temperatures can also cause damage to crops and property.

    • Frostbite occurs when the skin becomes cold enough to actually freeze. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the nose are symptoms of frostbite.
    • Hypothermia (Low Body Temperature) can occur during longer periods of exposure when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. A person will become disoriented, confused, and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible.

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    Wind Chill Factor ...

    Most of the time, cold is judged in terms of a thermometer reading. With people and other living thing though, both temperature and wind speed are needed to produce a "wind chill factor." The wind chill shows how cold the wind makes exposed flesh feel and is a good way to determine the threat of frostbite or hypothermia.

    Remember ... wind chill temperatures apply only to people and other living things. If the temperature is 35° F and the wind chill is 10° F, objects such as pipes or cars will only cool to 35° F. The wind chill factor does not apply to non-living objects.

    Wind Chill Calculator

    Wind >
    Calm 5 mph 10 mph 15 mph 20 mph 25 mph 30 mph 35 mph
    35° 35 32 22 16 12 8 6 4
    30° 30 27 16 9 4 1 -2 -4
    25° 25 22 10 2 -3 -7 -10 -12
    20° 20 16 3 -5 -10 -15 -18 -20
    15° 15 11 -3 -11 -17 -22 -25 -27
    10° 10 6 -9 -18 -24 -29 -33 -35
    5 0 -15 -25 -31 -36 -41 -43
    0 -5 -22 -31 -39 -44 -49 -52
    -5° -5 -10 -27 -38 -46 -51 -56 -58
    -10° -10 -15 -34 -45 -53 -59 -64 -67
    -15° -15 -21 -40 -51 -60 -66 -71 -74