Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

snowbuttonWinter Storms & Extreme Cold

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Before the Storm

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

During Winter Storms

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently 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 the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

winter-driving-shutterstock_128420186Winter Driving

  • 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.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

Traveling

If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.” For more information, please visit www.ready.gov.

Test your Winter Safety Knowledge!

Click here to take an interactive version of the www.sfmic.com Winter Safety Quiz!

Click here to download and read a full print version including question more information and explanations.

Good luck!

winter-safety

What is Windchill?

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The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. It is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the speed of the wind increases, it can carry heat away from your body much more quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool.

The Wind Chill Chart below shows the difference between actual air temperature and perceived temperature, and amount of time until frostbite occurs.

windchill_chart

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Winter Weather: Outdoor Safety.” For more information, please visit www.bt.cdc.gov.

Proper Winter Pipe Maintenance

insulate-pipe-shutterstock_62010250When the temperature takes a nose dive, water in your pipes can freeze, causing them to burst. Water floods your home and ruins your furnishings, and you have to pay to have it all repaired and replaced. It’s costly and inconvenient. But it doesn’t have to happen if you follow these simple precautions.

Wrap Up for Winter

Wrap exposed pipes with insulating material.  Pipes under kitchen sinks, in crawl spaces, near windows or in unheated basements are areas susceptible to freezing.

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Find Your Shut-off Valve

Locate your inside water shut-off valve now!  The shut-off valve controls all of the water into your home.  If a pipe bursts, knowing the location of your shut-off valve and how to turn it off, can save valuable time and prevent water damage.

The shut-off valve may be located in the basement, under the kitchen sink, in a utility closet, near the hot water heater, or even under the house in a crawl space.  If you cannot locate or do not have a shut-off valve, call your plumber.

Try turning off your shut-off valve. Then turn on each of the faucets in your house, if no water comes out you found the main shut-off valve.  Once you locate the main shut-off valve mark it so everyone in your family can find it should an emergency occur.

Make Sure You Have it Covered

If your house has a crawl space, cover the outside vents to prevent winter winds from entering and freezing pipes.  Keep the garage door closed if you have a slab foundation.

running-water-pipe-1-23-2014 11-10-35 AMProblems with Frozen Pipes in the Past?

Keep the water running, especially if you’ve had problems with frozen pipes in the past. Try running a small steady stream of water from a cold water faucet in extremely cold weather. The cost of the water is small compared to dealing with the cost and inconvenience of frozen or burst pipes. Make sure you run the water from a faucet children don’t use, because they may inadvertently shut off the faucet after using it.

What if the Pipes Freeze? Thawing Frozen Pipes

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using towels soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipe, an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, or an electric hair dryer. Do not use electrical devices if there is standing water.  Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

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What if the Pipes Burst?

  • If a water pipe breaks, immediately close the main shut-off valve to stop flooding.
  • Call a plumber to repair or replace the damaged section of pipe as soon as possible.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Winter Pipe Maintenance.” For more information, please visit www.louisvilleky.gov.

LED Lighting Products

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LED lighting is currently available in a wide variety of home and industrial products, and the list is growing every year. The rapid development of LED technology leads to more products and improved manufacturing efficiency, which also results in lower prices. Below are some of the most common types of LED products.

INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL LIGHTING

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The high efficiency and directional nature of LEDs makes them ideal for many industrial uses. LEDs are increasingly common in street lights, parking garage lighting, walkway and other outdoor area lighting, refrigerated case lighting, modular lighting, and task lighting.

KITCHEN UNDER-CABINET LIGHTING

Because LEDs are small and directional, they are ideal for lighting countertops for cooking and reading recipes. The color can appear more cool or blue than is typically desirable in a kitchen, and there can be some excessive shadowing in some fixtures, so it is important to compare products to find the best fixture for your space.

RECESSED DOWNLIGHTS

Recessed downlights are commonly used in residential kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms, and in a number of office and commercial settings. DOE estimates there are at least 500 million recessed downlights installed in U.S. homes, and more than 20 million are sold each year. Both CFL and LED technology can decrease downlight wattage by 75% or more. See the Solid-State Lighting website for a quality comparison of incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs in downlights.

LED REPLACEMENT BULBS

With performance improvements and dropping prices, LED lamps can replace 40, 60, and even 75 Watt incandescent bulbs. It’s important to read the Lighting Facts Label to make sure the product is the right brightness and color for the intended location. When chosen carefully, LED replacement products can be an excellent option. See the Solid-State Lighting website for information about general service LED lamps.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS

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LEDs consume far less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and decorative LED light strings such as Christmas tree lights are no different. Not only do LED holiday lights consume less electricity, they also have the following advantages:

  • Safer: LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.
  • Sturdier: LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, and are much more resistant to breakage.
  • Longer lasting: The same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.
  • Easier to install: Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket.

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights $10.00
LED C-9 lights $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $2.74
LED Mini-lights $0.82

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “LED Lighting.” For more information, please visit www.energy.gov.

How to Protect Workers from Extreme Cold

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  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help the worker.
  • Train the workforce about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin (polypropylene).
  • Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
  •  Perform work during the warmest part of the day. • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks). Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.

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Workers Are at Increased Risk When…

  • They have predisposing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
  • They take certain medication (check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacy and ask if any medicines you are taking affect you while working in cold environments).
  • They are in poor physical condition, have a poor diet, or are older.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “The Cold Stress Equation.” For more information, please visit www.osha.gov.

How LEDs are Different

LED lighting is very different from other lighting sources such as incandescent bulbs and CFLs. Key differences include the following:

  • Light Source: LEDs are the size of a fleck of pepper, and a mix of red, green, and blue LEDs is typically used to make white light.
  • Direction: LEDs emit light in a specific direction, reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light. This feature makes LEDs more efficient for many uses such as recessed downlights and task lighting. With other types of lighting, the light must be reflected to the desired direction and more than half of the light may never leave the fixture.
  • Heat: LEDs emit very little heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat.

bulbs

LEDs cost less to operate, saving you money over the life of the bulb. Many of the newer bulbs last significantly longer than traditional bulbs, so you won’t need to replace them as often.

The table below compares a 60 watt (W) traditional incandescent with energy efficient bulbs that provide similar light levels.

Comparisons between Traditional Incandescent and Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs

60W Traditional Incandescent 43W
Energy-Saving Incandescent
15W CFL 12W LED
Energy $ Saved (%) ~25% ~75% ~75-80%
Annual Energy Cost* $4.80 $3.50 $1.20 $1.00
Bulb Life 1000 hours 1000 to 3000 hours 10,000 hours 25,000 hours

*Based on 2 hrs/day of usage, an electricity rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, shown in U.S. dollars.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “LED Lighting.”” For more information, please visit www.energy.gov.

The Cold Stress Equation: Hypothermia

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What Happens to the Body: NORMAL BODY TEMPERATURE (98.6° F/37°C ) DROPS TO OR BELOW 95°F (350 C); FATIGUE OR DROWSINESS; UNCONTROLLED SHIVERING; COOL BLUISH SKIN; SLURRED SPEECH; CLUMSY MOVEMENTS; IRRITABLE, IRRATIONAL OR CONFUSED BEHAVIOR.

What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)

  • Call for emergency help (i.e., Ambulance or Call 911).
  •  Move the person to a warm, dry area. Don’t leave the person alone. Remove any wet clothing and replace with warm, dry clothing or wrap the person in blankets.
  • Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks (sugar water or sports-type drinks) if they are alert. Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  •  Have the person move their arms and legs to create muscle heat. If they are unable to do this, place warm bottles or hot packs in the arm pits, groin, neck, and head areas. DO NOT rub the person’s body or place them in warm water bath. This may stop their heart.

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What Should Be Done: (water temperatures)

  • Call for emergency help (Ambulance or Call 911). Body heat is lost up to 25 times faster in water.
  • DO NOT remove any clothing. Button, buckle, zip, and tighten any collars, cuffs, shoes, and hoods because the layer of trapped water closest to the body provides a layer of insulation that slows the loss of heat. Keep the head out of the water and put on a hat or hood.
  • Get out of the water as quickly as possible or climb on anything floating. DO NOT attempt to swim unless a floating object or another person can be reached because swimming or other physical activity uses the body’s heat and reduces survival time by about 50 percent.
  • If getting out of the water is not possible, wait quietly and conserve body heat by folding arms across the chest, keeping thighs together, bending knees, and crossing ankles. If another person is in the water, huddle together with chests held closely.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “The Cold Stress Equation.” For more information, please visit www.osha.gov.

 

LED Lighting : Key Facts

led-lighting_thinking-shutterstock_160728677The light-emitting diode (LED) is one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.

ENERGY SAVINGS

keyfacts

LED is a highly energy efficient lighting technology,

and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States.  Residential LEDs — especially ENERGY STAR rated products — use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.

Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “LED Lighting.”” For more information, please visit www.energy.gov.

The Cold Stress Equation: Frostbite

cold-stress-shutterstock_106259666When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result.

 What Happens to the Body: FREEZING IN DEEP LAYERS OF SKIN AND TISSUE; PALE, WAXY-WHITE SKIN COLOR; SKIN BECOMES HARD and NUMB; USUALLY AFFECTS THE FINGERS, HANDS, TOES, FEET, EARS, and NOSE.

What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)

  • coldstress-thermo-oshaMove the person to a warm dry area. Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.
  • DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue.
  • Gently place the affected area in a warm (105°F) water bath and monitor the water temperature to slowly warm the tissue. Don’t pour warm water directly on the affected area because it will warm the tissue too fast causing tissue damage. Warming takes about 25-40 minutes.
  • After the affected area has been warmed, it may become puffy and blister. The affected area may have a burning feeling or numbness. When normal feeling, movement, and skin color have returned, the affected area should be dried and wrapped to keep it warm.

NOTE: If there is a chance the affected area may get cold again, do not warm the skin. If the skin is warmed and then becomes cold again, it will cause severe tissue damage. • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “The Cold Stress Equation.” For more information, please visit www.osha.gov.