Winter Storms and extremely cold temperatures present unique challenges and place older adults and sick individuals at greater risk. They create a higher risk for car accidents, home disasters, carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia, frostbite, and heart attacks from overexertion.

The best way to get through a cold weather emergency is to BE PREPARED!

With the current storm covering most of Michigan and with record low temperatures on the way, it’s important to think about what to do if you find yourself in an emergency. When faced with emergency situations, you probably won’t have much time to think, “Hmm, what should I do?” Therefore, taking a little bit of time now to learn the dangers when faced with an emergency could potentially save your life or the life of someone you know.

Highlighted below are some important tips to help you begin thinking about what you should do, and links to several resources if you or a loved one needs assistance in your preparation.

DO sign up for your community’s warning system: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio provide emergency alerts DO NOT ignore winter storm warnings and alert
DO identify any specific needs ahead of time and know how to access in an emergency (medications, dietary needs, etc.) DO NOT forget to check on your neighbors-older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold
DO keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, weather stripping, or place a rolled up blanket at the base of exterior doors. Call a professional if needed DO NOT leave candles unattended or burn them near any papers, clothing, rugs or curtains
DO set an alarm if necessary to remind yourself that you have a candle burning or that your space heater is on DO NOT ever leave a space heater unattended and don’t forget to turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep
DO keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from any other objects – including bedding, clothing, curtains, rugs, or boxes and always place it on a flat level service DO NOT place space heaters on counters, cabinets, or carpet
DO plug space heaters only directly into a wall outlet DO NOT use an extension cord or power strip when plugging in a space heater
DO frequently test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working or call a professional to perform a home safety check DO NOT heat your home with your stove-top or oven. Leaving oven doors open, even just a crack, can omit carbon monoxide (CO), which can lead to CO poisoning
DO keep faucets running at a slow drip to ensure there is constant water circulation through your pipes DO NOT let your pipes freeze
DO learn the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia, and basic treatments DO NOT ignore signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia
DO limit your time outside DO NOT forget to wear layers of warm clothing, if you need to be outside
DO keep your entire body covered. When your skin is exposed to wind, it can accelerate heat loss DO NOT let yourself sweat excessively—sweating is bad because water on your skin makes you colder
DO stay hydrated DO NOT become dehydrated. Severe cold can be just as dangerous as severe heat, but don’t eat snow. You can lose a lot of core heat by melting snow inside your body
DO check on your neighbors frequently to see if they need help or call a professional to ask for help if you are unable to assist DO NOT forget your own limitations and don’t overexert yourself when shoveling snow
DO create an emergency supply kit for your car DO NOT forget to buy extra batteries
DO stay off roads if at all possible and give yourself more time to get where you are going DO NOT try to get out and walk for help, should you go off the road or end up in the ditch