Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services

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Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

1. Stay indoors during the storm.

2. Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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).

10. 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.

11. Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

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

No one wants to think about food poisoning — stomach cramps, nausea and more — the day before a big holiday feast, but if you’re the cook, you need to be mindful. From cooking your turkey to storing and reheating leftovers, Thanksgiving offers many chances to make simple meal prep mistakes that can be costly.

The Preparation Phase: Lots of Hand-Washing
Unfortunately, you can’t give raw meat and poultry (turkey and chicken) a visual inspection to see if it contains harmful bacteria. Your best bet is to handle meat as if it is contaminated (better safe than sorry). This means you should wash your hands — before and after handling the raw stuff, while preparing the food and especially after going to the bathroom (I know it’s gross, but folks forget to wash their hands!). Just dunking your hands under the hot water isn’t enough.

Risks for Cross-Contamination
Second to improper hand-washing on the problem list is cross-contamination. Have you ever sliced up raw chicken, lightly rinsed or wiped your knife and then used it on raw veggies (and probably the same cutting board, too)? That’s cross contamination.

Another form of cross-contamination happens when you wash your turkey before cooking it. Sure, your mother may have taught you that this how you “wash away” the germs, but according to the newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, washing raw meat can actually increase the chances of spreading bacteria. If you’re trying to “clean” your meat, your best bet to get rid of bacteria is to cook it properly. Go ahead and skip that turkey bath.

Watch the Clock
It’s all in the timing. Be mindful of how long your foods stay out at room temperature. Since bacteria thrive at room temperature, it’s important to prep what you need and either cook it immediately or refrigerate it for later use. Anything that remains out for more than two hours, especially raw meats, can make you and your guests ill. Take note: No defrosting on the counter!

The Cooking Phase: Reaching Proper Temperatures
We already covered the debate on whether to stuff or not stuff your turkey. In order to keep all your foods safe, cooking to the correct internal temperature is a must and that means you need a thermometer. If you don’t have one, buy one now! Here’s our rundown on some common types, so you can find the one for your needs.

When checking the turkey, you want to measure the temperature of the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast; it should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For other foods, place the thermometer in the thickest part and follow this USDA chart on specific cooking temperatures for various foods.

And don’t forget about those pre-cooked sides you made ahead of time. They also need to be reheated to the correct temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before being served — this kills off any bacteria that might have gotten on them during preparation.

The Cooling Phase: Packing Things Up
According to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), improper cooling causes more than half of food-borne illnesses. Once food is cooked, don’t let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. This is for heated foods and cold foods (i.e. fruit salad).

When you’re ready to cool your foods down and store them for leftovers, the technique depends on the type of food:

·         Thanksgiving turkey: Cut the remaining meat into small pieces and lay them flat in a shallow container.

·         Stuffing and other sides: If there’s a lot left, divide it into smaller containers so you can reheat a batch up at a time. Fill the containers so the food is no more two inches deep.

·         Soup and gravy: Pour soup into smaller containers to allow for easier, faster cooling.

SAFETY TIP FOR TRICK OR TREATING

Tips to ensure a Happy Halloween:

  • Make costumes stand out. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags and use face make-up instead of masks, which can lessen visibility.
  •  Parents and children should map out a safe route together to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Appoint an adult to accompany children. Do not let children wander through the neighborhood without proper supervision of a responsible adult.
  • Accept treats only at the door. Visit only the homes that have a porch light on and never go inside a home to accept candy.
  • Stick to the sidewalks. Never walk in the street. If a sidewalk is not present, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Always look both ways before crossing the street and stick to crossing at street corners.
  • Be careful of strangers and animals. Be especially careful to avoid stray dogs. Also be sure pets in the home are secured so that they do not accidentally jump on or bite visiting trick-or-treaters.
  • Watch for open flames. An open flame in a jack-o-lantern could easily turn into a fire. Try using a flashlight or glow stick to light up jack-o-lanterns instead. In addition, be cautious of flames around costumes, which tend to be highly flammable.
  • Inspect treats thoroughly. Examine each piece of candy carefully to ensure it is not contaminated. Throw away any treat which is spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious.
  • Keep steps and front yard clear and well-lit. Make sure the outdoor lights are on. Clear the steps, sidewalks and front yard of leaves or other obstacles that a child could trip over.
DO YOU HAVE A SMOKE DETECTOR?
The single most important thing is to have a working smoke detector. Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust, and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after 10 years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Note: Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector if your dwelling has:
• Liquid-fueled space heaters (kerosene or propane).
• An attached garage.
• Gas appliances (furnace, stove, fireplace, clothes dryer, or hot water heater).
• Oil heat.
• A wood stove.
If you live in an all-electric single family residence without any combustion-type appliances or an attached garage, you may not need a residential carbon monoxide detector.
 

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