SRHD encourages safety precautions in extremely cold weather
Kelli Hawkins, SRHD | email@example.com | 509.324.1539, c.509.994.8968
Spokane, Wash. – In light of the National Weather Service’s Spokane office announcement of dangerously cold temperatures in the forecast for eastern Washington through Thursday, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is reminding people to take precautions for reduce health risks.
Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone, including animals, can be affected.
“When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there is blowing snow, try to stay indoors,” said Dr Francisco Velázquez, Spokane County health manager for SRHD. “To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, be outdoors as short as possible and remember that by preparing for winter emergencies the risk of weather-related health problems can be reduced.”
Extreme cold presents a dangerous situation that can lead to health emergencies for susceptible people, such as those who are homeless or stranded, or who live in a house that is poorly insulated or has no heating.
Prepare for the cold weather
- Stock up on emergency supplies for communication, food, security, heating and vehicles
- Listen to radio or TV, or follow social media, for winter storm forecasts and other information
- Have appropriate clothing available for cold weather
- Make sure the fireplace is working properly
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank
During periods of extreme cold
When residents must use heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, the risk of home fires increases, as does the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other fuel-burning heaters only if they are properly vented to the outdoors, and never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors – the fumes are lethal.
Here are some other tips for keeping residents safe in extremely cold weather:
- If a person has to go out, wear several layers of loose, light, warm clothing rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens rather than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover the mouth with a scarf to protect the lungs from extremely cold air.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia:
- Signs of frostbite include an area of white or grayish-yellow skin, unusually firm or waxy skin, or numbness.
- Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, disorientation, uncontrollable chills, trips, drowsiness, and a body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
- If a resident gets stuck outside, get out of the wind and stay dry. Build a lean-to or snow cave if nothing else is available. Don’t eat snow; it will make you too cold.
- Don’t drive unnecessarily.
Pets are also at risk for serious health problems or death
- Keep animals indoors.
- If you let them out for some reason, wait and let them in right away.
- If you have any concerns regarding the safety of an animal that should be inside, please contact SCRAPS at: (509) 477-2532.
The city of Spokane has activated a temporary warm-up center located at the Spokane Convention Center and operated by the Guardians Foundation. The center will be open until noon on Sunday January 2, 2022. For more information on this shelter and other warming resources, visit the City’s website.