Adapted from Brian Duff at Mind4Survival
Throughout history people have personified the winter season by referring to it as Old Man Winter or Jack Frost. If you are like me and hate the cold weather, you probably have personified winter with a name more severe than the traditional names and yours probably includes an expletive. Regardless of what you call this time of year, he or it is upon us and everyone should be prepared. Brian Duff at Mind4Survival has put together some great information that will help all of us; responder or not, to do just that. This article is an adaptation of two podcasts by Brian and Mind4Survival. You can listen to both podcasts by clicking on the links for each of them.
M4S024: Winter Weather Preparedness with Kyle Nelson
There is no one definition of what a winter storm is, but it’s important that people practice winter weather preparedness. Winter storms are very all-encompassing. The storms produce a variety of both winter and summertime types of hazards. Winter hazards include snow, sleet, hail and frigid temperatures. Summer hazards include high winds, thunderstorms, and tornados. You should also get your weather information from more than one source. Weather.gov, which is produced by the National Weather Service, is focused on forecasting, alerting and warning. Weather.com is associated with The Weather Channel, an entertainment company.
People in winter storm areas will face a variety of weather hazards. These include heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain, low temperatures, and/or high winds. The best way to prepare for a winter storm is to “know before you go.” In other words, keep track of the weather and plan accordingly. If you live in a winter storm area, consider keeping a snow kit in your vehicle. The snow kit should include:
• Full body snowsuit
• Insulated winter boots
• Knit hat
• Thick gloves
• Metal shovel
• High energy food
• Method to melt snow (ex. Jet Boil stove)
• Artificial heat source (ex. ThermaCare Heat Wraps)
• Battery powered portable NOAA radio
• Portable C.B. radio
How Do Winter Weather Advisories Work?
The National Weather Service issues weather advisories through a tiered structure. There are 122 local National Weather Services Offices scattered throughout the United States and its territories. The local offices issue four levels of weather updates for potentially hazardous weather.
• Outlook – Is issued up to seven days in advance of possible hazardous weather in your area.
• Watch – Is issued within 48-hours of a weather impacting event and indicates conditions are favorable for the development of severe hazards.
• Warning – The forecasted weather hazards are either imminent or occurring in your area. Warnings are issues when hazards are posing a significant threat to life and property.
• Advisory – Is a less form of a warning. Weather hazards are not an immediate threat to life or property. Advisories are more of a nuisance condition that has the potential to become life-threatening without proper precautions.
It is important for your winter weather preparedness to pay attention to your local weather forecasts and updates. If you do, you will become more safe, secure and prepared. Always use a variety of means to obtain your weather updates. Local television and emergency management services often have subscription text message alert systems available. There are a variety of smartphone apps available. Make sure to test the various apps and see what works best for you. NOAA weather radio covers a majority of the country during disasters and emergency events.
Winter Weather Preparedness Take Away Points:
Know the weather hazards that can impact your area.
Adjust your winter weather preparedness kit to suit your situation.
Maintain your winter weather situational awareness.
Make sure your sources of weather information are accurate and work for you.
M4S025: Winter Medicine with Travis Hall
Winter weather is reality and so is the need to understand winter medicine concerns. People should embrace winter, prepare for it and take it seriously. When embracing it, learn how to adapt to winter and you’ll be better set for success. “Winter medicine is all about being prepared. If you’re ready for a situation and you both mentally and physically prepare for it, it’s really not as bad as what you’re perceiving it to be.” ~Travis Hall, U.S. Army Green Beret. How Does Cold Effect Your Metabolism? Shivering increases metabolism and causes high-calorie burns. This causes a drop in weight. Being cold increases your daily energy (food) needs. The body needs to maintain 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to stay warm.
• Keep a cold weather kit in your car.
• Poncho liner or another type of blanket
• Gloves and hand warmers
• Extra clean dry socks
• Long underwear
• Leather gloves for working
Plan ahead for the possibility of cold even if it doesn’t seem like it may get cold. Being prepared with proper clothing is very important. Keeping your head and feet warm can do wonders for your personal morale. It’s important to focus on personal hygiene in the winter because the cold decreases the motivation to do activities that keep you healthy. Make sure you clean your hands and body, wash your clothes, and get fresh air. Keeping up with washing because of your layers of clothing make washing something that is not easy. Built up layers of clothing hold bacteria unless you wash yourself and your clothes. Try to avoid wearing more layers than necessary. Physical activity will warm you up and can make you sweat. Dress up or down appropriately.
Changing your socks is important because fresh socks help keep your feet clean, dry and trench foot free. Take the time and plan on changing your socks when possible. When changing your socks, when appropriate, let your foot air dry before putting the new sock on. This will help kill any bacteria and will work towards keeping your feet healthy. Don’t forget to wash your socks. Clean socks are good socks. Clean socks can help you feel better and more motivated when you’re in a difficult and strenuous situation.
Getting, good, warm sleep when it is cold is important to help your body heal. Healing is especially important when you’re cold. Plan your activities in advance and understand your body’s needs. Once your needs are understood, take appropriate actions. While you may be cold initially, as your activity increases you will warm up. So dress appropriately. Stop throughout the day and adjust your clothing and equipment as needed to your situation. People often forget to drink water in the wintertime, but it is still very important. You lose just as much moisture from your body in the winter as you do in the summer. Drink water!
How Can You Keep Warm at Night Without a Fire? If possible, learn how to have a low light fire. Candles will heat up a small space. Body heat from another person and “snuggling” under combined blankets really helps. Insulate yourself and your shelter with leaves, or others material works well. Keep yourself off the ground to avoid heat loss through convection into the ground. If you’re in a long-term situation, find, or make a permanent shelter. The goal is to not only survive but to thrive.
What is Hypothermia? Hypothermia is the deregulation of the heat of your body. Uncontrollable shivering is the start of hypothermia. The key to hypothermia is early recognition and re-warming.
Frostbite typically affects your exposed areas. Oftentimes the number one area impacted by frostbite is your nose. Your fingertips, ears, nose and private parts are also very susceptible to frost bite. You can identify frostbite by looking for discoloration and numbness. If you are numb, or in pain, work on warming up the area. Once you pass the point of pain, you could be in serious trouble. The winter medicine key is to re-warm the area. Re-warming is painful and will not feel good, but is necessary. Combat frostbite by wearing gloves, changing your socks and maintaining your warmth. Prevention is the best way to deal with frostbite.
About the Author
Brian Duff is the go to resource for concerned people who want to improve their safety, security and preparedness. He is a proud former Army Ranger, Paramedic, Firefighter, High Threat Security Specialist and International Security Director who has served and protected people around the globe for decades. When he’s not working to help others, he can be found in the garage, tinkering away, out on the hiking trail, or meeting up with friends and occasionally trying to find the end of the Internet. Make the choice, take a look at Brian’s virtual home, Mind4Survival.com and set yourself up to overcome and survive any difficult situation.