Tag Archive: weather

hypothermiaWith another winter storm coming in across the southern and eastern United States, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you the signs and symptoms of hypothermia which can be deadly if not treated promptly.
The snow and ice predicted over the coming days may leave you stuck in a car, with no power or have you outside trying to clear the wintry mess up or just going outside to play.

A must read and print off:

All information below was taken from the Mayo Clinic Website:

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-po-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C).
When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can’t work correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death.
Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.
Shivering is your body’s automatic defense against cold temperature — an attempt to warm itself. Constant shivering is a key sign of hypothermia. Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:
• Shivering
• Clumsiness or lack of coordination
• Slurred speech or mumbling
• Stumbling
• Confusion or difficulty thinking
• Poor decision making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
• Drowsiness or very low energy
• Apathy or lack of concern about one’s condition
• Progressive loss of consciousness
• Weak pulse
• Slow, shallow breathing
A person with hypothermia usually isn’t aware of his or her condition, because the symptoms often begin gradually and because the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness.

Please keep in mind that your first line of defense against hypothermia is prevention:
Before you or your children step out into cold air, remember the advice that follows with the simple acronym COLD — cover, overexertion, layers, dry:
• Cover. Wear a hat or other protective covering to prevent body heat from escaping from your head, face and neck. Cover your hands with mittens instead of gloves. Mittens are more effective than gloves because mittens keep your fingers in closer contact with one another.
• Overexertion. Avoid activities that would cause you to sweat a lot. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause you to lose body heat more quickly.
• Layers. Wear loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Outer clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material is best for wind protection. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does.
• Dry. Stay as dry as possible. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Be especially careful to keep your hands and feet dry, as it’s easy for snow to get into mittens and boots.
Keeping children safe outdoors
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following tips to help prevent hypothermia when children are outside in the winter:
• Dress infants and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
• Limit the amount of time children spend outside in the cold.
• Have children come inside frequently to warm themselves.
Winter car safety
Whenever you’re traveling during bad weather, be sure someone knows where you’re headed, and at what time you’re expected to arrive. That way, if you get into trouble on your way, emergency responders will know where to look for your car. It’s also a good idea to keep emergency supplies in your car in case you get stranded. Supplies may include several blankets, matches, candles, a first-aid kit, dry or canned food, and a can opener. Travel with a cellphone if possible. If you’re stranded, put everything you need in the car with you, huddle together and stay covered. Run the car for 10 minutes each hour to warm it up. Make sure a window is slightly open and the exhaust pipe isn’t covered with snow while the engine is running.
Drinking alcohol
Take the following precautions to avoid alcohol-related risks of hypothermia.
Don’t drink alcohol:
• If you’re going to be outside in cold weather
• If you’re boating
• Before going to bed on cold nights
Cold-water safety
Water doesn’t have to be extremely cold to cause hypothermia. Any water that’s colder than normal body temperature causes heat loss. The following tips may increase your survival time in cold water, if you accidentally fall in:
• Wear a life jacket. If you plan to ride in a watercraft, wear a life jacket. A life jacket can help you stay alive longer in cold water by enabling you to float without using energy and by providing some insulation. Keep a whistle attached to your life jacket to signal for help.
• Get out of the water if possible. Get out of the water as much as possible, such as climbing onto a capsized boat or grabbing onto a floating object.
• Don’t attempt to swim unless you’re close to safety. Unless a boat, another person or a life jacket is close by, stay put. Swimming will use up energy and may shorten survival time.
• Position your body to minimize heat loss. Use a body position known as the heat escape lessening position (HELP) to reduce heat loss while you wait for assistance. Hold your knees to your chest to protect the trunk of your body. If you’re wearing a life jacket that turns your face down in this position, bring your legs tightly together, your arms to your sides and your head back.
• Huddle with others. If you’ve fallen into cold water with other people, keep warm by facing each other in a tight circle.
• Don’t remove your clothing. While you’re in the water, don’t remove clothing. Buckle, button and zip up your clothes. Cover your head if possible. The layer of water between your clothing and your body will help insulate you. Remove clothing only after you’re safely out of the water and can take measures to get dry and warm.

Hypothermia not necessarily related to the outdoors
Hypothermia isn’t always the result of exposure to extremely cold outdoor temperatures. An older person may develop mild hypothermia after prolonged exposure to indoor temperatures that would be tolerable to a younger or healthier adult — for example, temperatures in a poorly heated home or in an air-conditioned home.
Symptoms of mild hypothermia not related to extreme cold exposure are nearly identical to those of more severe hypothermia, but may be much less obvious. Signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia may include:
• Shivering
• Faster breathing
• Trouble speaking
• Confusion
• Lack of coordination
• Fatigue
• Increased heart rate
• High blood pressure
Hypothermia in infants
Typical signs of hypothermia in an infant include:
• Bright red, cold skin
• Very low energy
When to see a doctor
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you see someone with signs of hypothermia or if you suspect a person has had unprotected or prolonged exposure to cold weather or water. If possible take the person inside, remove wet clothing, and cover him or her in layers of blankets.
How hypothermia happens:
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it produces it. The most common causes of hypothermia are exposure to cold-weather conditions or cold water. But prolonged exposure to any environment colder than your body can lead to hypothermia if you aren’t dressed appropriately or can’t control the conditions. Specific conditions leading to hypothermia can include:
• Wearing clothes that aren’t warm enough for weather conditions
• Staying out in the cold too long
• Unable to get out of wet clothes or move to a warm, dry location
• Accidental falls in water, as in a boating accident
• Inadequate heating in the home, especially for older people and infants
• Air conditioning that is too cold, especially for older people and infants
How your body loses heat
The mechanisms of heat loss from your body include the following:
• Radiated heat. Most heat loss is due to heat radiated from unprotected surfaces of your body.
• Direct contact. If you’re in direct contact with something very cold, such as cold water or the cold ground, heat is conducted away from your body. Because water is very good at transferring heat from your body, body heat is lost much faster in cold water than in cold air. Similarly, heat loss from your body is much faster if your clothes are wet, as when you’re caught out in the rain.
• Wind. Wind removes body heat by carrying away the thin layer of warm air at the surface of your skin. A wind chill factor is important in causing heat loss.

Risk Factors:

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing hypothermia:
• Older age. People age 65 and older are more vulnerable to hypothermia for a number of reasons. The body’s ability to regulate temperature and to sense cold may lessen with age. Older people are also more likely to have a medical condition that affects temperature regulation. Some older adults may not be able to communicate when they are cold or may not be mobile enough to get to a warm location.
• Very young age. Children lose heat faster than adults do. Children have a larger head-to-body ratio than adults do, making them more prone to heat loss through the head. Children may also ignore the cold because they’re having too much fun to think about it. And they may not have the judgment to dress properly in cold weather or to get out of the cold when they should. Infants may have a special problem with the cold because they have less efficient mechanisms for generating heat.
• Mental problems. People with a mental illness, dementia or another condition that interferes with judgment may not dress appropriately for the weather or understand the risk of cold weather. People with dementia may wander from home or get lost easily, making them more likely to be stranded outside in cold or wet weather.
• Alcohol and drug use. Alcohol may make your body feel warm inside, but it causes your blood vessels to dilate, or expand, resulting in more rapid heat loss from the surface of your skin. The use of alcohol or recreational drugs can affect your judgment about the need to get inside or wear warm clothes in cold weather conditions. If a person is intoxicated and passes out in cold weather, he or she is likely to develop hypothermia.
• Certain medical conditions. Some health disorders affect your body’s ability to regulate body temperature. Examples include underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), poor nutrition, stroke, severe arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, trauma, spinal cord injuries, burns, disorders that affect sensation in your extremities (for example, nerve damage in the feet of people with diabetes), dehydration, and any condition that limits activity or restrains the normal flow of blood.
• Medications. A number of drugs, including certain antidepressants, antipsychotics and sedatives, can change the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.
The diagnosis of hypothermia is usually apparent based on a person’s physical signs and the conditions in which the person with hypothermia became ill or was found.
A diagnosis may not be readily apparent, however, if the symptoms are mild, as when an older person who is indoors has symptoms such as confusion, lack of coordination and speech problems. In such cases, an exam may include a temperature reading with a rectal thermometer that reads low temperatures.
Until you can obtain professional medical care:
First-aid care
• Be gentle. When you’re helping a person with hypothermia, handle him or her gently. Limit movements to only those that are necessary. Don’t massage or rub the person. Excessive, vigorous or jarring movements may trigger cardiac arrest.
• Move the person out of the cold. Move the person to a warm, dry location if possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold and wind as much as possible.
• Remove wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it. Cut away clothing if necessary to avoid excessive movement.
• Cover the person with blankets. Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the person. Cover the person’s head, leaving only the face exposed.
• Insulate the person’s body from the cold ground. If you’re outside, lay the person on his or her back on a blanket or other warm surface.
• Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person’s breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately if you’re trained.
• Share body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets.
• Provide warm beverages. If the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverage to help warm the body.
• Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm water in a plastic bottle or a dryer-warmed towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. Don’t apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
• Don’t apply direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin or even worse, cause irregular heartbeats so severe that they can cause the heart to stop.

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing signs and symptoms of hypothermia seek medical treatment!

Winter Storm Survival

winterDid winter catch you unaware? Nope, not me, but this winter has brought to my attention just how unprepared so many people are to deal with winter storms that can bring ice, snow, power outages, traffic jams, kids out of school for days on end. Can anyone say Atlanta and what happened at the end of January? Up here in Virginia we received storm after storm and down at Virginia Beach they got caught with the unusual, if not quite unheard of 10 inches of snow.
Roads were slick, icy, snow packed. Can’t tell you how many tracks I saw going off the side of the road into to trees. But I am digressing here. We all know what winter can bring and what can happen IF you aren’t prepared or caught unaware.
Here are some of my own winter storm survival ‘rules’ that I have learned over the years and have kept me and mine safe and sound.

First and foremost though, be AWARE of the potential weather in and around your area.

Rule #1: If you can, stay home or shelter in place. Seems simple yeah? But how many of you go to work or just have to do one last thing at the split moment the storm is coming in or just getting going. Now I will admit I break this rule on occassion, but that brings me to…
Rule #2: Don’t drive if you can’t drive…what are your limits and capabilities in snow? Your experience? Your vehicle? I have driven a LOT of miles in bad road conditions over the years because of a job I had. It only took ONE TIME for me to ditch my car to learn that slow as you go and no sharp steering or breaking is KING if you have to drive in snow and/or ice. Oh and by the way…just because you have a truck or SUV with 4 wheel drive does NOT mean you get to drive fast or suddenly can defy the laws of physics regarding ice 🙂
Rule #3: Keep some sort of emergency bag with food, water, light and more clothes or a blanket in your vehical. You get stuck out on the road or find yourself having to shelter in place you’ll be ahead of the game.
Rule #4: Always let someone know when you are leaving and the route you will be taking. This rule also includes…keeping in touch! Keep that cell phone battery charged. Check to make sure you can charge it in your vehical or some otherway. Test your charging cords…they do go bad.

Now for some rules at home:
Rule #1: if you don’t have to leave…stay home, yep, there’s that rule again, but its worth repeating…
Rule #2: Always keep extra food IN THE HOUSE, that way you get to avoid the phenomenon known as…’oh my god, its going to snow, time to get bread, milk and toliet paper!’ you know, that bum rush to the store.
Rule #3: Have a way to stay warm if the power goes out…extra blankets, a wood stove, propane heaters. This is a subject in and of itself, but have it.
Rule #4: Have a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in your house that WORKS.
Rule #5: If you do have to go outside, be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the conditions. I don’t care if its just to take the garbage out…you slip and fall, well, you will appreciate at least being warm until you can get help.
Rule #6: Don’t forget your animals…the family pet or farm animals require more food, unfrozen water, and more attention to their shelter or less time/exposure to the elements.
Lastly, and this isn’t so much a rule…keep sane, sleep in or something you have been putting off…work isn’t everything and sometimes its just nice to let winter be winter.

Stay safe!

So here I sit after the 3rd natural weather event in 6 weeks…granted, we in New Kent, Va have escaped serious damage compared to many others who have rock n rolled, hid in their homes and had rain/wind pounding in many areas of the world and here in the US, but I think New Kent tops the list of ‘what next?’ Started rolling with the earthquake, then followed up by hurricane Irene and then yesterday, just when you think it is safe to go back outside and possibly quit holding your breath…2 tornados (possibily more, the national weather service is out here today looking around) come up sneak attack style…I am DONE mother nature, would you just PLEASE go kick someone else’s butt for a while?

We (meaning me and my 3 girls, were coming back from getting something across town when the thunderstorm got ugly. Now I grew up in the Midwest mind you and thunderstorms don’t particular bother me but they do make me nervous and put me on high alert. Coming down the main road back towards our house my cell phone started going ballistic (I have an insta alert app for severe weather)…then the hail started but lasted maybe 30 seconds…then blue sky and sun…but as I got another alert I was looking at the sky and lo and behold! sure enough…just maybe 1/2 mile off to our right here came some nasty looking clouds seeking the ground…seen this before out here and most of the time it just kinda hangs out but this time was DIFFERENT! I knew we were in trouble when I started to see BROWN in the cloud…no place to go but forward…right into the darn thing! but at an intersection I made a left and did a quick u-turn with that THING on the otherside of the road…lots of wind…but curiously no rain or hail…very weird…and back I went the direction I came from with my oldest daughter screaming at me that the clouds were turning…nice and this after seeing the biggest rainbow I have seen in years!

Anyway, it was a baby tornado compared to what I have seen in the midwest, did minor damage to my county (like laying trees down across the major interstate, trees down, power out, roofs off of a few buildings) and one road to my home was blocked by a big oak (again) but all in all, we got lucky. I don’t like being caught in the open with a tornado on the ground so close you can see where it is touching the ground, don’t like hail nor blinding rain either and I saw an example of STUPID yesterday with people driving on like nothing was doing outside…crazy…do they not have an app or listen to the radio or even better yet…look outside their car window?? Do they not understand what flashing headlights mean? sigh…

So we survived again but the events of the past 6 weeks have me on edge, not to mention the news…but here’s the deal peeps that I have learned in the past 6 weeks…that AT ANYTIME shtf can happen and you can’t be complacent about being ready for what may come…and once it starts and you are in the middle of it you better know what to do because it is too late at that point.

So what do I think?

1) Pay attention! use your eyes, ears and the media to KNOW what is going on. Granted with an earthquake it is kinda hard to ‘know’ ahead of time, but I will tell you this…watch the animals! they KNOW way before we do that its coming your way…again, use your eyeballs and pay attention…if you see or hear anything out of normal…pay attention.

2) Listen to your gut or intuition- this is probably one of the BEST skills you can hone for FREE as a prepper, survivalist or just a ‘concerned’ person. When something catches your attention there is usually a reason why…when something makes the hair on your neck stand up there is usually a reason why…follow up on it.

3) Can’t say this enough…get a PLAN AND KNOW WHAT TO DO ‘JUST IN CASE’…do you have any idea how much time is wasted that could save your life or your property or money if you just have a vague idea about ‘what to do’ ‘just in case’? Trust me when I tell you, forethought goes a long way when you are in ’emergency’ mode and it helps to keep panic and fear down to a minimum simply because you have at least a vague idea about ‘what to do’.

4) Act and act with decisiveness…and don’t worry about what others will think. Time and time again, I have seen people pause and wait because of ‘others’ and the sheeple mentality and then get caught in a royal mesh/nightmare. Be your own boss and stop worrying about what others think, and that includes your spouse, family and children. Do what you need to do when you need to do it.

Just these 4 simple things got me ahead of the hoards and kept me and mine safe and sound during the earthquake, hurricane and tornado (must apologize to the guy I cut off on the road when I turned around!).

And one last thing…don’t fail to prepare for the aftermath of ‘something’ either. I am worn OUT from all the excitement… Afterwards can be worse than the actual event, the disruption in ‘normal’, the let down of adrenaline (which can wipe you out physically), the isolation (power, travel and communication disruptions) and well, any number of things can and will take its toll ‘afterwards’. So just know it somewhere in the back of your mind that you will need to be able to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically and be gentle with yourself and loved ones afterwards. There are alot of ways to manage stress and change so learn what works best for you and yours BEFORE hand and have alot of different ways to do so. Stress in the aftermath can cloud the mind and kill.

So anyway, earthquake, check…hurricane, check….tornadoes, check…still alive and kicking here and I haven’t killed anyone yet…so I must be doing something right. And now I turn my attention to winter.