The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) today urged residents throughout the State of California to accelerate their winter weather preparedness efforts in response to a forecast by the National Weather Service for temperatures in the 20s to low 30s and possibly lower later this week. Freeze Warnings have been issued for areas in and around Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. "According to the National Weather Service, residents in much of Northern California can expect extremely cold temperatures during the next several days," said Cal EMA Acting Secretary Mike Dayton. "As this weather tends to be the norm throughout the winter months, it is critical that Californians recognize the risks associated with freezing temperatures and take necessary steps to prepare if they have yet to do so."
Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia and other serious health problems, particularly for seniors, infants and people with chronic conditions such as asthma and other respiratory conditions. Cold temperatures also threaten pets that are left unprotected. Cal EMA continues to closely monitor the weather and are prepared to implement Phase II of California's Contingency Plan for Extreme Cold and Freeze Emergencies if conditions warrant.
Residents of areas with expectations for freezing temperatures should be aware of the following:
* Learn the signs of hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and carbon monoxide poisoning
* Review and update emergency plans, including out-of-town contact information
* Store plenty of drinking water, food and medications
* Obtain and maintain a sufficient supply of heating oil
* Make sure portable radios and flashlights are operable and there's an adequate supply of extra batteries
* Listen to the radio or watch television for the latest information on the weather as well as instructions from local officials
* Eat regularly
* Drink plenty of fluids
* Avoid caffeine and alcohol
* Regularly charge devices and have back up options available if someone is dependent on equipment needing power
* Teach relatives, co-workers, classmates or neighbors to operate life-safety equipment
* Disabled or elderly may need assistance establishing support teams of people who can assist them
* Pre-identify options (e.g., paratransit, dial-a-ride, taxi, friend, neighbor) for transport to Warming Centers
* Protect pets from the weather. Move pets indoors or into an enclosed structure
* Do not use barbecues and other cooking equipment designed for outdoor use for cooking indoors.
* Wear several layers of clothing that is loose, lightweight, warm and water repellent
* Weather mittens, rather than gloves
* Wear a hat if outdoors
* Stretch before going outside.
* Move plants indoors or cover with plastic to protect them
* Avoid overexerting if shoveling snow or doing other outdoor activity. Overexertion is a major cause of winter deaths.
* Protect your lungs from cold air by covering your mouth while outdoors/avoid speaking unless it's absolutely necessary.
* Prevent your body from losing heat by changing from wet clothing to dry clothing as frequently as possible.
* Symptoms of frostbite: loss of feeling, white or pale appearance in the fingers, toes, ear lobes and other extremities.
*Get medical attention immediately if symptoms are noted.
* Signs of hypothermia: shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, apparent exhaustion.
* Travel by car during the day only and ensure the car is fueled with sufficient gas.
* Don't travel alone
* Let others know your schedule
* Stay on main roads