Agencies offering tips to keep Oklahomans, pets safe during winter storms

Posted on: 12:24 pm, November 21, 2013, by

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Two agencies that deal with health emergencies are helping Oklahomans get ready for winter with a few tips that will help keep humans and pets out of harms way.

When snow does fall, many Oklahomans grab their sleds and head for the hills.

However, sledding can be dangerous if you are not careful.

In 2007, more than 106,900 people were injured in sledding accidents and a majority of those patients were under the age of 14-years-old.

Experts with EMSA say most winter sports injuries, especially shoulder injuries, are caused when bodies slam into ice or hard-packed snow.

In 2007, more than 10 percent of the total number of people injured suffered head injuries playing winter sports.

If you are not planning on playing outdoors, you may still be at risk for becoming ill.

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities.

With a windchill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit, frostbite can occur in just 15 minutes.

The American Red Cross warns that residents should wear a hat, gloves and layers when going out in the cold.

Also, drink plenty of warm fluids but stay away from caffeine and alcohol.

Hypothermia is another risk that occurs when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness.
Unaccustomed exercise, like shoveling snow or pushing a car, can put extra stress on a heart and cause overexertion.

Pets also need extra care and should be brought inside when the temperature reaches 30 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill.

Dogs and cats can also suffer from frostbite if left outside during the bitter cold.

Also, chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate pets’ paws.

EMSA also recommends having a medical kit ready at all times, which includes the following:

  • Any medications you need, including oxygen tanks.
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissue packets
  • Emergency thermal blanket
  • Pair of hand warmers
  • Pair of toe warmers
  • Aloe packet
  • Blistex lip ointment
  • Lens wipes
  • First-aid guide
  • Bandage strips
  • First-aid burn cream
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antiseptic swabs
  • Wet Ones antibacterial wipes
  • Tweezers
  • First-aid quick card.

Drivers should also carry a winter storm survival kit in the back seat of your vehicle, which includes the following:

  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Shovel, tools, booster cables and windshield scraper
  • High-calorie, non-perishable foods
  • Sand or kitty litter to use for traction
  • Battery-powered weather radio and commercial radio
  • Bottled water
  • First-aid supplies
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector
  • Cell phone adapter

Also, experts ask that you check on elderly loved ones and neighbors.

When it comes to staying indoors, your attempts at staying warm can also put you at risk.

The Red Cross has the following tips for keeping warm:

  • Keep everything that burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a fire screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional.
  • If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard and non flammable surface. Do not put it on carpets, rugs or near bedding or drapes.
  • Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.