Protect yourself and your loved ones during a winter storm. Take extra steps to make sure you heat your home safely and follow the tips below.

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:

Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults. Follow these tips to keep your baby safe and warm during the extreme cold:

Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. Check on elderly friends and neighbors often to make sure their homes are heated properly.

If you are over 65 years of age, check the temperature in your home often during extremely cold weather.

Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes rupture or break. When you are expecting very cold or freezing temperatures:

Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat faster. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help keep yourself warm. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Try to stay indoors during extremely cold weather. Make any trips outside as brief as possible and remember these tips below to protect your health and safety.

Hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature) is a dangerous condition that can happen when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. In adults, warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion or feeling very tired, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. In babies, signs include bright red, cold skin, and very low energy. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.

Frostbite is a type of injury caused by freezing. It can lead to a loss of feeling and color in the areas it affects, usually the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes.  Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation (removing the affected body part). Signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness. If you notice signs of frostbite, seek medical care.

Walking on ice is extremely dangerous. Many injuries related to cold weather happen from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. Sand may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping.

Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly to avoid excess sweating. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.

Staying in your car when stranded is often the safest choice if winter storms create poor visibility or if roadways are ice covered. These steps will increase your safety when stranded:

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Content source: National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)

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