Emergency Kit Checklist in the event of power outages:
What kinds of injuries are associated with winter storms?
According to National Weather Service about 70 percent of injuries during winter storms result from vehicle accidents, and about 25 percent of injuries result from being caught out in the storm.
Some of the hazards associated with working in winter storms include:
What is wind chill?
Wind chill is an estimation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. Unprotected portions of the body, such as the face or hands, can chill rapidly and should be protected as much as possible from the cold wind. A 10 mile per hour wind combined with a 30°F temperature can have the same chilling effect on the body as a temperature of 21°F in a calm atmosphere. The Weather Service issues this information as the wind chill index. For more information, see OSHA's The Cold Stress Equation. OSHA Publication 3156, (1999). Also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages.
What is frostbite?
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that causes freezing in the deep layers of skin and tissue. Frostbite can cause permanent damage. It is recognizable by a loss of feeling and a waxy-white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes. For more information, see OSHA's The Cold Stress Equation. OSHA Publication 3156, (1998). Also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages.
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion. For more information, see OSHA's The Cold Stress Equation. OSHA Publication 3156, (1998). Also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages.
What can be done to avoid frostbite and hypothermia?
Who is at increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia?
Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods - the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs. Victims may also include people with predisposing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension, people that take certain medication (check with your healthcare provider and ask if any medicines you are taking affect you while working in cold environments), and people in poor physical condition or who have a poor diet. For more information, seeExtreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.
How do I treat a person with frostbite or hypothermia?
If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket. Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.
How do I walk safely on snow and ice?
What hazards are associated with repairing downed or damaged power lines?
The work activities involved with repairing downed or damaged lines entail many of the activities involved in installing and removing overhead lines and in general maintenance on overhead lines. The crucial difference is that in emergency conditions, such as winter storms, there are unknown hazards and the potential for changing hazards as work progresses. Under these conditions workers must be extra vigilant and cautious.
Potential hazards include:
What protective measures should be utilized when working on or around downed or damaged power lines?
Stay well clear of any downed or damaged power lines. Establish a safe distance from the lines and report the incident to the responsible authority. Only properly-trained electrical utility workers should handle damaged power lines.
Electrical utility workers should first assess the hazards present in order to minimize the chances of exacerbating the situation. Ideally the lines involved should be de-energized, but this may not be possible in all situations.
When working on downed or damaged power lines, electrical workers should utilize proper electrical safety work practices and personal protective equipment, as usual. However, as mentioned previously, extra caution should be exercised when working in winter storms, due to the adverse conditions present.
What hazards exist during removal of downed trees during a winter storm, and what safety precautions should be taken?
Clearing downed trees is a critical job during a winter storm. When winter storms occur, downed trees can block public roads and damage power lines. Emergency crews are often sent out to clear downed trees during a winter storm.
Potential hazards include:
Proper PPE including gloves, chaps, foot protection, eye protection, fall protection, hearing protection and head protection should be worn by workers using chainsaws and chippers to clear downed trees.
Only appropriate power equipment that is built to be used outdoors and in wet conditions should be used. All saws, chippers, and other tools should be used properly and according to their intended application. It is important that all equipment is well-maintained and functioning correctly in order for use. In addition, all equipment should have proper guarding, working controls, and other safety features as installed by the manufacturer.
What safety precautions can I take if I must drive in a winter storm?
Inspect the vehicle to ensure the following systems are operating properly:
Also carry an emergency kit in the vehicle with the following items:
For more information, see the National Safety Council's Winter, Your Car and You [45 KB PDF, 2 pages].
What should I do if a winter storm strands me in my vehicle?
Stay in the vehicle. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow. Display a trouble sign by hanging a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raising the hood. Turn on the vehicle's engine for about 10 minutes each hour and run the heat to keep warm. Also, turn on the vehicle's dome light when the vehicle is running as an additional signal. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the vehicle, take turns sleeping. For warmth, huddle together. Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation. Avoid overexertion since cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.