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Protect Yourself from Cold Weather


During cold weather, Contra Costa residents can help protect themselves, their family members, and their animals against cold weather. In particular, health officials warn against the dangers of using outdoor use heating devices, such as barbecues, inside homes. These items can produce deadly carbon monoxide.

Exposure to extreme cold can be dangerous to people's health. Actions that can be taken to help protect against severe cold and freezing temperatures include:

Preparing your home and family

  • Review and update your family emergency plan, including needs of infants and seniors.
  • Replenish your emergency supply kits including battery-operated radio and flashlights.
  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Check on family members and neighbors who are elderly or have special needs.
  • Move family pets indoors or to an enclosure out of the elements. Likewise protect livestock or other large animals from the cold weather.
  • Maintain a sufficient supply of heating fuel.
  • Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand. Make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Do NOT bring heating devices into the home that are intended for outdoor use, such as barbecues and other cooking equipment or other fuel burning devices.

Dressing for the weather

  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

Recognizing symptoms of cold weather exposure

  • Confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and shivering are signs of possible hypothermia. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy skin are symptoms of frostbite. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
  • In the case of overexposure to freezing temperatures, remove wet clothing and immediately warm the body with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup.

During a storm

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

For more information on preparing for emergencies, visit the Governor's Office of Emergency Services website: www.oes.ca.gov For health information, visit Contra Costa Health Services at www.cchealth.org. For info on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/carbonmonoxide.asp