MEP CA AB 1103

Winter safety and how to stay warm when the power goes out

Exceptionally cold temperatures were rampant across the United States in December 2022. A historic extratropical cyclone created winter storm conditions, including blizzards, high winds, snowfall, and record cold temperatures across much of the United States and parts of Canada.

From December 21 to 26, 2022, the storm and related cold wave killed at least 106 people and caused extensive vehicle pileups and road closures. About 6.3 million households in the US and 1.1 million in Canada were left without power for some part of the storm.

With about two months of winter remaining, it is important to prioritize winter safety, particularly in winter storms and in the case of power outages. There are a few things you can do to stay safe during the winter months:

  • Be aware of winter weather conditions:
    Keep an eye on weather forecasts and be aware of any winter storm warnings that have been issued.

  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite:
    Hypothermia is a condition in which the body's core temperature drops below normal, while frostbite is a condition that causes damage to the skin and underlying tissues because of freezing. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, and fatigue, while symptoms of frostbite include numbness, tingling, and a loss of color in the affected areas.

  • Keep your car in good condition:
    Have your car serviced before winter and make sure it has enough antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Keep a winter emergency kit in your car, including a blanket, flashlight, and extra warm clothing.

  • Take care when shoveling snow:
    Snow shoveling can be hard work and can lead to heart attacks. If you must shovel, take frequent breaks, and pace yourself.

  • Avoid slips and falls:
    Walk on well-cleared, salted sidewalks and driveways. Wear shoes or boots with good traction to prevent slips and falls.

  • Be prepared for power outages:
    Have emergency supplies on hand, such as a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, and non-perishable food.

In the case of a power outage, there are several things you can do to help stay warm:

  • Dress warmly and in layers:
    Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing to trap heat close to your body. Make sure to protect your head, hands, and feet from the cold.

  • Stay warm indoors:
    Keep your home well-insulated and use a programmable thermostat to maintain a consistent temperature. Close doors and windows to rooms that are not being used to keep the heat in the rooms you are using.

  • Use blankets and sleeping bags:
    Use heavy blankets and sleeping bags to stay warm while you sleep.

  • Use candles or flashlights:
    Use candles or flashlights to provide light and a small amount of heat.

  • Keep active:
    Do light exercises or move around to generate heat and stay warm.

  • Eat warm foods and drinks:
    Eating warm foods and drinks can help raise your body temperature.

  • Be aware of potential carbon monoxide poisoning: Use portable generators, charcoal grills, and other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices only in well-ventilated areas, and never use them inside homes, garages, or near windows.
  • Have emergency supplies:
    Have emergency supplies on hand, such as a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, and non-perishable food.

It is important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the hazards of winter weather. If you experience symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, seek medical attention right away. It is also important to be prepared for power outages and to take steps to stay safe and warm during them.