Posted in be prepared for emergencies, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Winter Weather Hazards

How to Be Safe in the Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex Safety TipsIn 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. Safety Polar Vortex

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

Safety Tips Polar VortexWhether you are impacted by the Polar Vortex or not, you should take steps to be safe in cold weather by following these tips:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.Cold Car Polar Vortex Safety
  • 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.Pet safety polar vortex
  1. 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.Polar Vortex Risks Safety
  1. 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 medical attention immediately.
  2. Identify Hypothermia
    Hypothermia Frostbite Risks Polar VortexThis 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.

Posted in BE SAFE, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Workplace Safety

In Low Temps, here is how to BE SAFE

Polar NightFrom the Midwest to the East coast, people and pets of all ages are facing dangerously low temperatures. As a result, thousands of flights have been canceled, schools are closed and motorists are stranded and dogs are trying to walk in record-breaking drifts. According to CNN, the bitter cold from a “polar vortex,” is not just another winter storm: “It’s the coldest in 20 years in many areas, breaking records in places like Chicago, where it was minus 16 overnight and minus 14 at noon.”

“Subfreezing temperatures can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take the proper precautions,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Regional Administrator. “It is important for everyone to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe during times of extreme cold temperatures.”

The arctic blast—expected to be the coldest in decades—is bringing below-zero temperatures to more than half of the continental U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye describes the situation, “It’s just a dangerous cold.”

Authorities have blamed the deep freeze for 13 deaths so far, nearly all of them from traffic accidents. What’s more, a man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia, and an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease who wandered away from her home in New York state was found dead in the snow in a wooded area about 100 yards away.

Minneapolis, in a rare move, has issued a “Particularly Dangerous Situation” warning, citing the “historic and life-threatening cold.” Such admonitions are typically reserved for tornadoes. Also, the National Weather Service adopted the Twitter hashtag “#Chiberia” for Chicago. Also of concern are the tens of thousands of Midwesterners who are without electricity. I hope they still have cell service so they can use the clever hashtags!

Do you know how to be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures? When it is exceedingly cold, take these precautions:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Limit your exposure to the cold.
  • Check smoke alarms.
  • Dress in layers and keep dry.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
  • Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia, and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe.
  • Bring pets indoors or make sure they have a warm shelter area and bowls filled with water instead of ice. If cats live in your area, bang on the hood of your car before starting your engine. (This last bit is optional. But please bring all of your pets inside in freezing temps!)
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your car, which includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight.
  • Just in case you have to vacate, keep the fuel tank in your vehicle above half full.
  • Check your car battery. “Batteries that are more than three years old or that are on the verge of going dead often can’t be jump-started once they have been exposed to temperatures below zero for an extended period.”
  • If you plan to use a space heater or fireplace, keep clothes, drapes and other flammables clear of all heating sources.
  • Never use space heaters while you sleep, when you are out of your home, or where children may be without adult supervision.
  • Don’t burn paper or trash in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Protect outside faucets. One solution is a durable faucet cover, which is designed to help protect faucets from freezing during below freezing temperatures. These are readily available at home warehouse stores.
  • If you must go outside, be careful. Watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, weak pulse, disorientation, incoherence and drowsiness, and frostbite, including gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness and waxy feeling skin.
  • Familiarize yourself with signs of hypothermia. If you suspect you or someone has symptoms, immediately seek medical attention. The best protection against hypothermia is to avoid exposure.
  • If you are going away for an extended period of time, be sure to maintain adequate heat inside your home at no lower than 55 degrees.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. When shoveling snow or even walking in deep snow, avoid overexertion, which could lead to a heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends not eating a large meal before shoveling, take frequent breaks, and use a smaller shovel or a snow blower.

For additional detailed, free resources about winter weather protection, see the CDC, FEMA and and NOAA. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.