There are quite a few problems that cold winters can bring. We should be aware of the dangers of winter weather as we transition from the autumn months.
Sure, wintertime is a nice break from the warmer temperatures, and brings us both Christmas and New Years. But just like being aware of the dangers of summer heat, it’s never a bad idea to prepare ahead of time for a potentially harsh winter.
The Dangers of Winter Weather
There’s no arguing that snow beautifies the scenery around us. But the storms that bring in snow can endanger you and your family, as well as your work. Freezing rain, sleet, snow, blizzards, and high winds can be a nightmare to manage.
Winter storms are capable of lasting briefly and disappearing in only a few hours. On the other hand, they can last for days. They can cause power outages, loss of heat, and communication disruption.
Being aware of the dangers of winter weather can make life so much easier. Some businesses and individuals underestimate the severity of the potential threat. They don’t consider the real dangers of winter weather.
Slick Roads Cause Accidents
Car accidents are probably the most common risk that comes with winter. If there are strong weather conditions, the risk is greatly increased.
Slick surfaces and minimal visibility come from snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Almost every year, we hear of multi-vehicle wrecks caused by these conditions. In the same sense, these conditions make it easier for you to drift off to the side of the road.
Over the years, more than 4,000 deaths have been the result of car accidents caused by winter weather. Although the majority of those statistics come from northern states, there is still a real danger everywhere during winter.
Avoid going on the roads altogether if possible when a winter storm is present. It’s definitely easier said than done in some cases.
If you must drive, use a four-wheel-drive vehicle if that’s a possibility. Additionally, you should always bring along an emergency kit.
Overall, stay safe and use your best judgement if you must drive in poor conditions.
Hypothermia is No Laughing Matter
Hypothermia is a serious medical emergency. This danger caused by winter weather can be deadly.
It occurs when your body can’t produce heat as fast as you’re losing it. Your body temperature can drop to dangerously low temperatures. It makes hard for your body to properly function.
Your heart, nervous system and other vital organs are put in harms way when your body temperature drops drastically. Untreated cases of hypothermia can result in complete organ failure and possibly death.
Exposure to freezing water or extreme winter temperatures cause hypothermia. Immediately call 911 if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Mumbling or slurred words
- Abnormal breathing
- Weak pulse
To protect yourself and avoid getting hypothermia, stay warm. Your body temperature should be at a normal level. Wear appropriate clothing to trap your body heat.
Frostbite is a Danger of Winter Weather
Unlike hypothermia, death isn’t as common from frostbite. Nonetheless, it’s still a danger to be aware of and be prepared for.
Frostbite is an injury to body tissues. It’s caused from exposure to extreme cold. Your skin literally freezes.
It’s commonly caught by leaving a body area uncovered in cold and windy weather. The fingers, toes, ears, nose, and face are common areas that frostbite affects.
Although you aren’t as likely to die from frostbite, it’s still crucial to treat is immediately. Seek help right away if these symptoms are present:
- Unusually cold skin
- Skin discoloration
- Waxy skin
- Blistering after warming up
Snowboards and skiers spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter, and they commonly experience frostbite. Wearing appropriate clothing can help prevent frostbite. Additionally, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is Possible
The threat of carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t a direct result of dangerous winter weather, but it’s still important to mention. Many cases happen primarily in December and January.
Poorly maintained and unfiltered furnaces allow carbon monoxide to leak, which can lead to poisoning. Similarly, portable generators and other gas-powered tools can expose you to the harmful gas.
Take some of these preventative measures to keep the risk low:
- Have a qualified technician inspect your heaters, including all gas, oil, and coal powered appliances
- Install some battery-operated detectors throughout your home to alert you of carbon monoxide being present
- Change the batteries when you set your clocks for daylight-savings time
- If you think you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide, seek medical attention
- Only use battery-operated appliances indoors
- Never run your vehicle in your garage
- Only burn stuff in your stove or fireplace that vents to the outside
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home
Heart Attacks Are Common During Winter
Last but not least, heart attacks are quite common during the winter months. This is due to the colder climate challenging your body’s cardiovascular system.
Many people have to shovel snow out of their driveways. It can be strenuous by itself, let alone the brutal cold attacking you while doing it.
Likewise, having any illness such as the flu can increase the risk of a heart attack. Stay warm and don’t push yourself. Keep your body safe and taken care of.
Be Prepared for the Dangers of Winter Weather
The best thing you can do in the months leading up to winter is make sure you’re prepared. Especially if you live in an area that commonly gets severe or devastating winter storms.
Staying up to date with alerts from your local weather channel and the upcoming forecast can keep you ahead of the game.
Make sure you know what to do with your pets. Have a plan of evacuation in case meteorologists predict things to be too severe.
Stay warm and stay safe.