The unusual climate change throughout the world is causing many concerns for citizens everywhere. With the increased frequency of storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons, no one knows when the next disaster will hit home. When a disaster is looming, power companies turn off the power to residences to lower the safety risks of electric shock and fire. While this action may be prudent it gives rise to other personal safety risks as well.  Here are some to plan for, before the next disaster hits:

Freezing Cold Temperatures

 If you live in northern climates and it is winter time when the disaster hits and the power shuts down, you will be faced with extreme cold. Hyperthermia sets in when a person's body temperature drops below (35 degrees C or 95degree F) and the signs of fatigue and exhaustion becomes evident.  Here are the three levels one may go through when faced with no power for a considerable period of time.

Acute hyperthermia:-body heat is lost very fast due to drenching or soaking in cold water for a period of time.  

Sub-acute:-when one gets chilly or wet or has little clothing and is in cool outdoor weather (below 10 degrees C or 50 degrees F), and lack proper nutrition, these inhibit the body’s ability to cope with low temperatures.

Chronic:-continuous exposure to indoor cold temperatures (below 16 degrees C or 60 degrees F), of those with ailments like hypothyroidism, or of those who use a variety of drugs and abuse alcohol.  In these cases they act and react in ways that is detriment ot their continuing health and wellness. These citizens either do not wear enough clothing, move slowly, lack of proper nutrition and mis-judge the coldness, and live in residences that have poor heating systems.

 Hyperthermia Prevention (a): having a good supply of food and clothing and a proper place of shelter and a good heat source –especially for the elderly and the sick --is a necessity. Have good thick blankets so even in a poorly heated room this can be of great help.  Residents should wear layers of clothing to build up body heat.  Wearing a hat is a necessity since 40 percent of body heat is lost through the head. Wear a scarf as this keeps the neck warm as well.  If you can walk around, do so, since this activity will raise the body heat.  

Hyperthermia Prevention (b):  When the body is soaked with water which is cooler than 24 degree C or 75 degrees F, the body cannot replace the heat fast enough to keep the body temperature normal.  The result is hyperthermia. When a power outage is in progress and the conditions are right for hyperthermia, here is how to prevent it:

  • Do not wade or swim in the water if at all possible.
  • Do not work or play alone—water or not
  • Wear high rubber boots if you must go into the water
  • Boots and clothing must have adequate insulation
  • Take periodic breaks and get out of the water.
  • Have a supply of dry clothing to change if you get wet.

Helping a hypothermic person:

  • A person who is suffering from hyperthermia may be disoriented, unaware of what is going on around, or even confused. Even in mild cases, the hypothermic sufferer will not be able to help himself/herself.
  • Those who show no signs of consciousness should be taken to the hospital for treatment:
    • Avoid massaging or rubbing on the skin.
    • Hyperthermia affected persons must be slowly and carefully warmed and monitored to get them back to normal.  Avoid direct heat or hot water to warm the person.
    • Provide hot beverages for the person to consume.
    • Absolutely do not provide cigarettes or alcohol to the person as these prevent blood flow. The person needs to improve blood flow to recuperate.

To learn more about the hazards that can be present during power outages, stay tuned for step two of the 8 other personal safety issues for which you should take seriously should a disaster hit your area.