- About 70% occur in automobiles
- About 25% are people caught out in the storm
- Majority are males over 40 years old
Deaths related to exposure to cold
- 50% are people over 60 years old
- Over 75% are males
- About 20% occur in the home
Winter storms occur between the months of December and April, and can immobilize whole communities for a few days. The problem can be compounded by hypothermia and power outages. Dangerous driving conditions occur several times a month, particularly on Highway 6, I-25, and I-70, with strong winds lowering visibility and the wind chill index.
When Caught in a Winter Storm
Shelter is available:
- Try to stay dry.
- Cover all exposed parts of the body.
No shelter is available:
- Prepare a lean-to, wind-break or snow cave for protection from the wind.
- Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
- Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
In your car:
Stay in your car or truck. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
- Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
- Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked. Make yourself visible to rescuers.
- Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
- Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
- Cover windows at night.
- Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
Using alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.:
- Use fire safeguards.
- Properly ventilate.
When no heat is available:
- Close off unneeded rooms.
- Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
Emergency Car Kit
Winter storms can occur quickly, without much warning. During the winter months, be prepared–keep a winter-weather box in your vehicle. Items to include are:
- A battery-powered radio (extra batteries)
- Flashlight (extra batteries)
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Booster cables
- High calorie food (nuts, candy bars, etc.)
- Candles/matchesCoffee can with lid (to melt snow)
- First aid kit
- Bottled water
- Extra clothes/boots
- Kitty litter or rock salt
- Bright colored cloth (hang on antenna)
- Newspapers, cards, games
- Plastic bags (sanitation)
- Pocket knife, handsaw or ax