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Prepare Your Library for Winter Weather

By Donna DiMichele | January 2, 2018

Prepare Your Library for Extreme Cold and Severe Winter Weather

Library facilities are subject to the same risks as homes during prolonged periods of extreme cold, especially if the library building will be closed for more than 24 hours. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gives specific recommendations to prepare yourself and your home. Many of these recommendations will apply to library facilities. Visit Ready.gov page on Snowstorms and Extreme Cold  for a comprehensive list of action steps.

The following are some highlights tailored for library facilities.

Review the Staff Communications Plan

Precautions for Your Facility

During Snowstorms and Extreme Cold

Cold Related Illness: Hypothermia, Frostbite

Frostbite is a serious condition that’s caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures. If you observe any of the following in staff or patrons, seek medical care for them. Elderly and homeless people are especially susceptible.

Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures.  Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature. Warnings signs of hypothermia include:

Carbon Monoxide

Caution: Each year, an average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and there are more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room with more than 4,000 hospitalizations. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are highest during colder months. These deaths are likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and alternative heating, and power sources used inappropriately indoors during power outages. Read more about carbon monoxide poisoning on Medline Plus.

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