The US has been grappling with extreme cold weather as the country was hit by a “bomb cyclone” winter storm that knocked out power, cancelled flights, and sent temperatures below -55 Fahrenheit (-48 Celsius).
About 240 million Americans were under severe weather warning on Friday when even the normally temperate southern states witnessed biting cold temperatures.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), if you are caught in a winter storm then you must first try to stay dry and cover the body parts that are exposed to the chilling wind. In case a shelter is not available nearby, the priority should be to build a snow cave to get protection from the wind. A fire can also be started to provide heat to the body and will also help draw attention. Rocks can be placed around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
During a winter storm, it is advised to keep moving your arms, fingers, legs, and toes vigorously to ensure proper circulation of blood. However, intense physical activities should be avoided such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or trudging through deep snow. Such exercises can cause a heart attack while sweating can result in chill and hypothermia.
When you are stuck in your vehicle amid a winter storm, you should stay inside the car and keep running the engine every 10 minutes to generate heat. Make sure to slightly open the window to allow the flow of fresh air into the car and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, remove any snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.
A car caught in a winter storm
When inside the house, close the cracks and gaps under the door using towels and close the rooms that are not needed to retain the heat. Wear warm and loose-fitting clothing.