In Santa Ana, California, corporate headquarters for the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, heavy rains have fallen. Winds have gusted. Mud has slid. And temps have dipped below freezing. To Southern Californians, this weather feels extreme. In contrast, those who live in the Midwest and East Coast are facing frigid temps on an entirely different level. In fact, at least 21 people have died as a result of bitter Arctic weather known as the Polar Vortex. This weather takes cold to the ultimate extreme, much like bacon takes pork products to new heights.
What is a Polar Vortex
The media coined the term Polar Vortex in 2014 during a particularly frigid storm system. I think I’ll coin the term “cat vortex” to describe feline activity year round. It refers to a large pocket of very cold air (typically the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere) which sits over the polar region during the winter season. Located six miles up in the atmosphere, the 2019 system has blasted much of the American Midwest and Northeast with temperatures cold enough to bring on frostbite within minutes.
How to Be Safe in Cold Weather
Whether you are impacted by the Polar Vortex or not, you should take steps to be safe in cold weather by following these tips:
- Stay Inside
One of the most important things you can do isstay inside as much as possible. Also, bring pets inside. We fare better because of our coats, freezing temps can be dangerous for us, too. Pay attention to weather service warnings. The coldest part of the day is typically early morning. So, whenever possible, stay home.
- Prepare Your Car
Don’t let cold weather catch you off guard. In advance of storms or approaching cold fronts, get your car ready for cold weather use.
- Service the radiator.
- Maintain antifreeze level.
- Check tire tread. And, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
- Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
- Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. If applicable, include items for pets in your kit.
- Stay Warm
- If you must go outside, cover hands with mittens to keep fingers together. If you have paws, you probably don’t need mittens. But some owners use booties. I’m not a fan. This also traps additional heat more effectively than gloves, which separate fingers.
- Layer loose-fitting and lightweight clothing under outer clothing. Select tightly woven knits and water-repellent material. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton.
- Avoid activities that would lead to perspiration. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause the body to quickly lose heat. Generally, I love activities that make me sweat. But I am a dog.
- Watch for Frostbite
This dangerous condition occurs when the tissue just below the skin freeze. The extremities such as fingers, toes, nose, ears and paws are most likely to be affected, but any exposed area skin is susceptible. If skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb, seek immediate medical attention immediately.
- Identify Hypothermia
This occurs when the body loses heat faster than it is able to produce heat. This leads to dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Hypothermia can occur when a person or animal’s body temperature falls below 95 degrees.Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech or difficulty speaking, confusion or memory loss, sleepiness, stiff muscles,slow and shallow breathing, weak pulse and clumsiness, or lack of coordination. In infants, you may also spot bright red and cold skin.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
In every kind of weather, we are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.