Cold Weather Health Precautions

Freezing temperatures, chilling winds, ice storms and snow can cause serious health problems including frostbite and hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature).


  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing, mittens, a hat and a face cover when outdoors.
  • Stay dry.
  • Be extra cautious in the wind. A strong wind, even in only moderately cold weather, can cause a wind chill far below freezing.
  • At the first signs of possible frostbite – redness or pain in any skin area – get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin.
  • Watch for hypothermia symptoms.
    • Confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, a drop in blood pressure, shallow breathing and a pinkish tint to the skin.
    • Anyone with hypothermia symptoms is in immediate danger and should receive medical help right away.
  • Check on elderly or sick people, especially if they live alone or in isolated areas.

Food Safety

Winter storms can cause power outages and lead to food safety problems. If you lose power for more than four hours, take these precautions with refrigerated food products:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible during power outages.
  • Discard any potentially hazardous foods such as meats, eggs, dairy products and leftovers that may have reached a temperature of 40 degrees or higher. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Frozen food that has thawed but not exceeded 40 degrees should be prepared as soon as possible. Do not refreeze.


Avoid exposure to deadly carbon monoxide gas. Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or outdoors near a window.

More winter storm safety tips from

More cold weather safety information from the CDC


Last updated July 2, 2018