Snow and rain ahead: here's 10 tips to stay safe, warm and healthy

February 5, 2014

With snow and freezing rain in the forecast beginning Thursday, Multnomah County wants people to take precautions to stay safe. Here are our top 10 tips:       

  • Dress to stay dry. Hypothermia can occur even at temperatures above 40° F, if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or is submersed in cold water.
  • Don’t rely on a cocktail to warm you up. Despite popular belief, alcohol can increase heat loss.
  • Space heaters and wood fires can increase carbon monoxide in your home. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, be alert for symptoms such as headache, weakness, vomiting, chest pain or confusion.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home and use caution when using kerosene or gas space heaters.
  • Never use charcoal grills, hibachis or portable generators indoors.
  • Don’t leave a vehicle’s motor running to “warm up’’ if it is parked in an enclosed, or partially enclosed space, like a garage.
  • Take it easy. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about chopping wood or performing other hard work in the cold.
  • Be alert to elders, people with disabilies small children or anyone with prolonged exposure to the cold. In cold temperatures, the human body loses heat faster than it generates it. Prolonged exposure to cold eventually uses up the body’s stored energy and can result in hypothermia. If someone is shivering uncontrollably, or suffering confusion, slurred speech or drowsiness after prolonged exposure, get them warm and dry and call 9-1-1.
  • Get indoors if you lose feeling and color in any skin that is exposed. Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for very cold temperatures. Go inside and immerse the affected area in warm water. Call your health care provider.
  • Seek shelter. Multnomah County’s emergency winter shelters are open from Feb. 5-9 and you can find a complete list on

To learn more: Oregon Public Health Winter webpage.