Severe Weather

Severe Weather & Your Health 

Extreme weather patterns carry a wide range of implications regarding human populations. In addition to the high potential for injuries and deaths during hurricanes, floods, and other weather-related disasters, it's important to know the additional health risks associated with extreme weather conditions.

A variety of weather situations can have an impact of an outdoor event. Please consult this checklist to see if there are things you need to consider for your event to keep your attendees safe and healthy.

Click here for information on warming/cooling centers.

  1. Extreme Cold
  2. Floods
  3. Hurricanes
  4. Extreme Heat
  5. Additional Health & Safety Concerns

Extreme Cold
Extremely cold air comes every almost every winter in Maryland. The arctic air, together with brisk winds, can lead to dangerously cold wind chill values. People exposed to extreme cold are susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes. Areas most prone to frostbite are uncovered skin and the extremities, such as hands and feet. Hypothermia is another threat during extreme cold. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce. 

signs of hypothermia - confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness, stiff muscles

Cold Weather Tips:

  • 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 conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of  heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. 
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
  • 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.
  • Keep an eye on neighbors, particularly those who are elderly, who are caring for young children or living alone.  Offer to assist with trips to the grocery, medical appointments or other errands.
  • If a home loses power, close off unneeded rooms and and have family members congregate in the warmest room with a supply of blankets to help conserve the heat in the house.
  • Do not use candles for light. Candles are a leading cause of house fires. Instead, stock battery-operated lights, such as flashlights, and a good supply of batteries.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio and batteries on hand to stay abreast of news and information. Keep cell phones fully charged.
  • Do not leave pets outdoors for a long time during cold weather.  Pets can suffer hypothermia and serious illness, so do everything possible to keep them safe and warm.

More Information (en español)