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Winter Weather

During winter, the air outside can get very cold. A winter storm happens when there is heavy rain and the temperature is low enough that the rain turns to ice or forms as sleet or snow. Winter storms can be freezing rain and ice, moderate snowfall over a few hours, or a blizzard that lasts for several days.

Sometimes, winter storms bring strong winds, ice, sleet, and freezing rain. Winter weather can knock out heat, power, and communications. Sometimes, this can last for days or weeks. Icy roads can also cause serious accidents.

Many winter storms bring dangerously low temperatures. Sometimes, people are injured or die from being in really cold temperatures for too long because this can lead to hypothermia or frostbite.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will be ongoing as winter storms continue to occur. Remember to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your state and local authorities to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 and other disasters.

Words to Know

Almost everyone in the United States can be affected by winter storms and extreme cold.

Living through environmental disasters, like a winter storm, can be more complicated when we are also experiencing a pandemic like COVID-19. It is important to be prepared and to understand how COVID-19 might affect you and your family.
 
COVID-19 may affect different people in different ways. Being prepared will help protect you so that you don’t have to worry. By practicing good health habits, like washing your hands and social distancing, you can lower your chances of getting sick, both from COVID-19 and in general. 

Before

  • Build an emergency kit. Your kit should include cleaning supplies, two masks per person to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and non-perishable foods that could last for several days or weeks in case you must stay at home.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Help your parents sprinkle rock salt, sand or kitty litter on sidewalks and walkways. This helps to make them less slippery.
  • Make sure you dress warmly and have extra blankets!
  • Bring pets inside. They can be injured by the cold, too.

During

  • Stay inside!
  • Sidewalks can be very slippery, and you can hurt yourself if you fall.
  • If you are outside helping to shovel snow, make sure you wear a hat. It helps keep you from losing body heat. Cover all exposed parts of your body. Wear layered clothing and wear a hat and a scarf, cover your mouth to protect your face and keep you warm.
    • Be sure to have several clean masks to use in case your mask becomes wet or damp from snow. Cloth masks should not be worn when they become damp or wet. Be sure to wash your mask regularly.
    • Masks may make it difficult to breathe, especially for those who engage in activities like shoveling. If you are unable to wear a mask, maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and those who are not part of your household.
  • Wear mittens, if you have them. They’re warmer than gloves.
  • Put on dry clothes as soon as you come inside.
  • If you can’t feel your fingers, toes, ears, or nose, or they appear white or grayish-yellow, tell a grown-up immediately. Frostbite is dangerous and you may need to see a doctor.
  • Tell a grown up immediately if you can’t stop shivering, have trouble remembering things, feel tired or talk funny. You may have hypothermia, which can be very dangerous.
  • If your family uses a generator, make sure to use it outside. Keep it away from the house to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If your home loses power, you and your family can go to a designated public shelter or warming center.

After

  • Continue to wear layers, a hat, scarf, and mittens or gloves. These will help to keep you warm and protect you from frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Remind your parents to clean surfaces that people touch frequently, like doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. 
  • Know that it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed out. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Take care of your body and talk with your parents or other trusted adults if you are feeling upset.

Staying Healthy

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes! If you are not wearing a mask, use a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow. If you do use a tissue, throw it in the trash right away. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while you wash your hands. Make sure to wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, using the bathroom, and before eating or cooking. 
  • If you can’t find soap and water to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 
  • Stay away from people who are coughing, sneezing, or sick.
  • Remind your parents to clean surfaces that people touch frequently, like doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls.
  • Tell your parents if you feel sick.

Did you know?

Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. Signs can be shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness. If you see signs of hypothermia in someone, get them to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first, such as the head, neck, and chest. Keep them dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.  

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in the face, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can make skin numb and change color to white or grayish-yellow. Skin can also become firm or waxy. If you see signs of frostbite, go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Do not massage or use a heating pad.

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Last Updated: 11/17/2020