WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- First responders say extremely cold temperatures call for some extra preparation at home and on the go.
West Des Moines EMS Assistant Chief David Edgar said you should have a winter emergency kit in your car. Some items that are important to include are:
“Warm coat, blanket, boots, making sure your cell phone is charged, an extra battery in case you become stranded,” Edgar said.
Edgar said hypothermia can set in very quickly and they’ve even started using some new equipment when responding in frigid temperatures.
“One thing that we’ve added to all of our ambulances now is a product that allows us to keep blankets heated so we have blankets that we can pull out that are heated to 90+ degrees and put on a patient,” Edgar said.
He said if you feel like frostbite may be setting in do not immediately run that part of your body under hot water, warm the core of your body and massage the area to get blood flowing.
Keeping certain parts of your house warm is important too. Fire Marshall Mike Whitsell said you should not warm up pipes with space heaters or open flames, you should turn up the thermostat.
“Prime example would be like in a bathroom or in your kitchen with pipes underneath the sinks, open those cabinet doors up to let the heat get down in there. They always say to maybe run some water and leave it cracked just a little bit,” Whitsell said.
When warming up your car before you leave the house, don’t warm it up in the garage.
“They may open up the garage door, but what if that wind is out of the right or wrong direction and it’s pushing that exhaust into your home. Carbon monoxide is a very big deal. We are hunkering down right now and sealing up our house to keep the cold air out, well your house has to breathe to a certain extent,” Whitsell said.
It’s important to make sure both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly to keep you safe at all times of the year.
Whitsell said it's also important to clear ice and snow away from entrances and exits to your home and also dig out fire hydrants so they can respond more quickly.