As the Northeast braces for a major winter weather event this week, Kunkel Ambulance recommends advance preparations for frigid temperatures and snowstorms, which are especially dangerous for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and young children.

“Taking preventive action is the best way to deal with frigid weather,” said Cathy Carvelli, vice president of operations for Kunkel Ambulance. “Minimize your outdoor exposure and prepare for power or heating outages. We are strongly encouraging people to review safety plans for extreme cold and weather emergencies.”

Kunkel Ambulance recommends residents prepare a home emergency kit that includes:

  • Alternate heat sources, such as dry firewood for fireplace and kerosene or space heater with automatic shut-off switch
  • Blankets
  • Matches
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight or battery-powered lantern
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Battery-powered clock or watch
  • Extra batteries (including cellphone battery)
  • Special needs items (diapers, hearing aid batteries, medications)
  • Three-day supply of nonperishable food and water, including one gallon of water per person per day

When winter weather is forecast, check the supplies in your kit. If you plan to use a kerosene or space heater as a secondary heat source, install a carbon monoxide detector in the home. Also, keep blankets, first-aid kit, booster cables and a tool kit in your vehicle for emergencies.

When temperatures are dangerously low, limit time outdoors. When outside, dress warmly in multiple layers and stay dry. Remove layers before you begin to sweat. Do not ignore shivering, an important first sign of the body losing heat. Shivering is an indicator to move indoors.

Cold weather puts extra strain on the heart during exertion. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, be extra cautious when performing strenuous work, such as shoveling snow. If the activity is necessary, dress warmly and work slowly. The body already is expending energy to stay warm.

The elderly and very young are the most susceptible populations for cold weather-related injuries and illnesses. With age, the body becomes less sensitive to temperature change and might not realize the danger. Seniors should install a thermostat and check regularly to ensure house temperatures are at a safe level. Infants should never sleep in a cold room; an infant cannot generate enough heat through shivering. In an emergency, hold an infant and keep the baby warm with your body heat.

Serious health problems can result from exposure to cold, including hypothermia and frostbite. The symptoms of hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature, in adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss or drowsiness. The signs of danger for infants are bright red, cold skin and very low energy. If you suspect hypothermia, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, call 9-1-1 and insist on Kunkel or call 315-797-4111.

Frostbite most often affects areas of the body that are exposed to the elements, including the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Skin will appear white, gray or yellow, feel unusually firm or waxy and be numb. If these symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately.

About Kunkel Ambulance

Since 1939, Kunkel Ambulance has provided excellent emergency and nonemergency ambulance services in the City of Utica and Oneida County in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York and provides mutual aid service to a large portion of Oneida and Herkimer counties. Every Kunkel ambulance is staffed with highly skilled, certified paramedics and EMTs who are trained in the latest lifesaving technology and emergency protocols.

Kunkel Ambulance is a part of Priority Ambulance, a national ambulance company headquartered in East Tennessee. Priority Ambulance’s more than 500 paramedics, EMTs and telecommunicators serve communities in Tennessee, Alabama, New York and Indiana.