American Red Cross offers winter weather safety tips

Published 12:19 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

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A blast of bitter cold air is headed to most of the country that will last beyond Christmas Day. Weather experts in parts of the Greater Carolinas predict temperatures will be below average for this time of year.

“As we gather for the holidays, it’s important to keep safety in mind,” said Allison Taylor, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Greater Carolinas. “The Red Cross wants to help everyone prepare for the worst weather this winter to avoid any accidents that may place anyone in danger.”

Besides the extreme temperatures, this bitter cold could cause power outages due to the higher demand for heating. The American Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe during this dangerous cold weather:


• Winter weather can bring life-threatening conditions. Stay indoors and wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight warm clothes.

• Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or live alone.

• Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling snow, pushing a vehicle or walking in deep snow.

• Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cold air out. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.

• Make sure you have enough heating fuel on hand.

• Protect pipes from freezing

• Bring your pets inside during cold winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure they have access to non-frozen drinking water. If the animals are outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.


Protect your home from accidental fires:

• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

• Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

• Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. Connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.


The Red Cross encourages everyone to stay off the road if possible. If you must drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips:

• Fill the vehicle’s gas tank, and clean the lights and windows to help with visibility.

• Share the details of your route, departure time, and estimated arrival time with someone.

• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on wet roadways.

• Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.

• Avoid distractions such as your cell phone.

• Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

• Don’t use electrical components (like your headlights) unless the engine is running.


• Use flashlights in the day — avoid using candles.

• Don’t drive unless necessary. Traffic lights will be out and roads could be congested.

• Turn off and unplug any appliances, equipment and electronics. When the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.

• If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food. Use perishable food from the refrigerator first. Then, use food from the freezer. If the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and cover it at all times.

• If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.

• Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement or other partially enclosed area. Keep this equipment outside and away from doors, windows and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

• Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet.


• To avoid frostbite and hypothermia, be aware of the wind chill and dress appropriately.

• Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.

• When outside, stay active to maintain body heat, take frequent breaks from the cold and avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body.
Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

• Drink liquids, such as warm broth or juice, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

• Get out of the cold immediately if signs of hypothermia or frostbite appear. These signs include shaking uncontrollably, getting extremely tired, turning very pale or getting numb fingers, toes, ears or nose.
To treat someone who may have hypothermia or frostbite, gently warm them by wrapping them in a blanket and giving them warm drinks and high-energy foods. Call 911 if these signs are severe.


People can download the all-inclusive Red Cross Emergency app which combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe. And there is a special mobile app – Monster Guard – designed for kids, teaching them to prepare for emergencies at home by playing an engaging game. Users can find the apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to