The winter weather impacts us all, but in particular our senior community is very vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Whenever our senior community is at risk from the cold or heat, the Director of Aging and City of Cleveland Emergency Management services issue a W.A.R.N. (Wide Area Rapid Notification) message to our senior population regarding the anticipated emergency.
WARN message issued on February 19, 2015. Listen here:
“This is Jane Fumich, Director of the Cleveland Department of Aging. Winter weather is upon us. For your safety, please keep the following winter weather tips in mind and share them with your older neighbors, friends and loved ones.
Severe cold makes you more susceptible to hypothermia, a condition in which your body temperature drops below normal.
- If you must go outside, use proper footwear, wear warm clothes and dress in layers.
- When going out, cover your mouth to avoid getting cold air in your lungs.
- If your clothes get wet, change them as soon as possible.
- Do not turn off the heat to save money; instead, you can close off rooms not being used to conserve heat.
- If using portable heaters keep them at least 3 feet away from furniture and draperies to decrease risk of a fire.
- Test your smoke detectors to make sure they work.
- Make sure you have extra food, blankets and water on hand.
If you need assistance dial the numbers 211 and you will reach United Way. For a life threatening emergency dial 911.
Public Health tips for dealing with the extreme cold
The best way to fight off the cold is to stay indoors, with heat! If your home is inadequately heated, go to a neighbor’s or relative’s house, or one of the City of Cleveland warming centers. Keep these other tips in mind to stay safe and healthy during cold:
- If you must go out, bundle up in layers and keep a hat on that head!
- Keep dry. If you get wet, change out of any wet clothing quickly to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Get medical help as soon as possible.
- Make sure your car and home are ready for winter.
No matter what the weather, always have weather appropriate emergency kits handy at home and in your car and know the emergency plans for work, school and places you frequent. Stay connected with weather alerts and other news sources too so you’re never caught off guard.
Cold temperatures can affect plumbing systems and cause frozen pipes for many businesses and residences. The Department of Public Utilities offers the following tips to help avoid damage, expensive repairs, frustration, and possibly a temporary loss of service to the property.
- Before arrival of freezing temperatures, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses to allow water to drain from the pipe and faucet; insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas such as garages and crawl spaces; seal off access doors, air vents and cracks and repair broken basement windows.
- If freezing temperatures have already set in, leave a pencil-lead-thin stream of water flowing and try to get heat into the room if it can be done safely to help prevent faucets or water service lines from freezing.
- Identify the master shut-off valve and mark it. If a pipe bursts anywhere in your home, this valve can turn off the water and help limit further damage and costly repairs.
- If cold temperatures do cause a frozen water line, water should be turned off at the master shut-off valve to limit damage. The best course of action is to contact a plumber or a private contractor to thaw the lines and make repairs.