Meteorological fall will soon come to an end, meaning the winter season is just around the corner here in the Tennessee Valley. Each year ahead of the winter season, the National Weather Service holds the Winter Weather Awareness Week campaign.

This year’s awareness week runs from Sunday, November 12th through Friday the 17th. Each day will be used to discuss topics about winter safety and winter preparedness ahead of the winter months.

The frequency of winter weather in Alabama and Tennessee is small but when it occurs it can cause significant property damage, injury and even death. Preparation before a winter weather event is key to protecting yourself and your property. Some of the topics that will be discussed throughout the week are the types of winter precipitation, the difference between frostbite and hypothermia and past winter weather events.

Ice, rain, & snow — all is possible during the Winter

On Monday, News 19 Meteorologist Jessica Camuto kicked off Winter Weather Awareness Week by discussing why preparation ahead of the cold is key to protecting not only yourself but your loved ones as well.

During the winter months, many of us are out traveling, especially during the holiday season. Before heading out, it is always important to check the weather forecast for any potential hazards you may encounter during your trip. You also want to make sure you have a winter kit supplied with batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, blankets and non-perishable foods.

Before leaving for your trip, make sure your heat is left on at a minimum of 55 degrees. This helps keep the pipes warm and prevents water in the pipe from freezing.

Dangers Of The Extreme Cold:

During the winter season, we don’t just see snow and ice. Have you ever noticed that when it is breezy temperatures feel colder? This is known as the wind chill and is determined by the combination of temperature and wind speed.

The layer of heat generated from our bodies keeps us warm, but when winds are gusty it pushes the heat away from our bodies making us feel colder. Referencing the wind chill chart, a temperature of ten degrees can easily feel below zero with a wind speed of 10 mph. The lower the wind chill value, the faster frostbite, and hypothermia can occur.

Wearing gloves, hats and scarves is the perfect way to protect your skin and can limit exposure to the cold. Any exposed skin, especially fingertips, toes, and the nose, are areas most susceptible to frostbite.

There are many dangers when it comes to cold weather that could impact both humans and pets. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Extreme cold can also cause damage to body tissue. This is known as frostbite. Frostbite and hypothermia can occur in just thirty minutes or less when wind chill values are at or below -10 degrees.

If you notice someone is beginning to show signs of hypothermia or frostbite, it is important to seek medical attention. If someone is showing signs of hypothermia, warm the person slowly starting at the core of the body.

When it comes to frostbite, get indoors as quickly as possible and get in a warm, but not hot, bath. You should also stay clear of stoves and heaters and do not use hairdryers as you could burn yourself without realizing it.

One simple thing you can do to protect yourself from the bitter cold is to bundle up when you head outdoors. Wear multiple loose layers and a heavy coat along with gloves, hats and scarves. We can’t forget about our furry friends! It is always important to bring them indoors when we begin to see extreme cold.

As we head into the winter months, you can count on the Weather Authority to keep you updated on the latest forecast!