Extreme Temperatures

Cold snaps and heat waves can be as challenging and as deadly as any other natural disaster. You can best weather these times through pre-season preparation and the right know-how.

Preparing for a Winter Storm

  • Stock up on food, water, medicines and heating fuel
  • Secure back-up heat sources, such as kerosene heaters. Never use charcoal, gas or propane heaters indoors
  • Buy bags of rock salt and sand for use on icy walkways
  • Weather-strip windows and doors to help seal out the cold

During and after a Winter Storm

  • Conserve heating fuel by shutting off unused rooms
  • Wear several layers of clothing and a hat outdoors. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs
  • Don't overexert yourself while shoveling snow
  • Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling along with paleness in tip of nose, fingers, toes and ear lobes
  • Beware of hypothermia. Signs include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness, memory loss and disorientation
  • Avoid driving at night or alone. Notify others of your schedule and route

If Your Vehicle Is Stranded in a Blizzard

  • Pull off the road and turn on your hazard lights
  • Do not start walking unless you can see a building where you can take shelter
  • If no buildings are in sight, stay in your vehicle, where rescuers are more likely to find you
  • Wrap yourself in blankets, or use seat covers, floor mats and maps
  • Run the engine for 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a window slightly for ventilation
  • Balance use of the heater and lights to conserve the battery
  • If stuck in a remote location, spell out "HELP" or "SOS" with rocks or branches

Winterize Your Vehicle

  • Check the wipers, battery, heater, defroster, ignition system, lights, oil and tire pressure
  • Consider purchasing snow tires or chains
  • Pack a winter emergency kit with a window scraper, blankets, battery-powered radio, flashlight, water, snack food, tow chain or rope, shovel and flares

Winter Weather Terms to Know

  • Freezing Rain- Rain that freezes on contact with roads, trees, sidewalks, etc
  • Sleet- Rain that freezes before hitting the ground
  • Winter Storm Watch- A winter storm is possible in the area
  • Blizzard Warning- Winds or gusts 35 miles per hour or greater, along with snow, are expected to last 3 hours or more
  • Winter Storm Warning- A winter storm is occurring or will begin soon
  • Frost/Freeze Warning- Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing

During a Heat Wave

  • Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible and in the shade if you go outside
  • If your home is not air conditioned, spend at least two hours daily at an air-conditioned mall, library or other public place
  • Wear sunscreen outside, along with light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible
  • Drink water regularly even if you are not thirsty. Limit alcohol, which speeds dehydration
  • Never leave children or pets alone in the car
  • Avoid exertion during the hottest part of the day
  • Take a cool shower or bath

Summer Weather Terms to Know

  • Heat Wave- Period of extreme heat, usually accompanied by high humidity.
  • Heat Index- The relative humidity added to the air temperature—how hot it feels.
  • Heat Cramps- Muscle pains due to exertion—the first sign of heat-related problems.
  • Heat Exhaustion- A mild form of shock brought on by strenuous activity in the heat.
  • Heat Stroke- A life-threatening condition occurring when the body's temperature control system shuts down. Brain damage or death can result if the body is not cooled at once.