NCDMPH Winter Weather Emergencies

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Winter Weather Emergencies

Winter storm debris

Winter weather and storms can range from mild to severe, and can include dangerously low temperatures, snow, sleet, and hail, along with strong and blinding winds. These storms can affect wide geographic areas, and may contribute to serious health and safety concerns.

Contribute to "a nation of resilient communities" by educating yourself and others on disaster health topics related to winter weather. NCDMPH has gathered resources to assist health professionals in preparing for winter weather. By providing these resources, the National Center aims to foster resilience through learning. The organization of this content is intended to facilitate self-directed learning as well as provide materials for educators. This is an initial effort and we will continue to add to these resources.

Ideas for educators who are teaching health professionals interested in learning content or activities related to health impacts of winter weather emergencies may be found below.

Winter Weather Resources


-- Background --

National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center: Weather and Storms

National Weather Service: Winter Windchill Chart

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Winter Weather FAQs

American Academy of Pediatrics: Winter Storm Tips

CDC: Winter Weather Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and Podcasts

CDC: Preparing for and Responding to Extreme Heat and Cold Events

CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): Cold Stress

American Red Cross: Winter Storm Preparedness

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce, National Weather Service, American Red Cross: Winter Storms - The Deceptive Killers PDF 

Xu G. et al. Incidences, Types, and Influencing Factors of Snow Disaster-Associated Injuries in Ningbo, China, 2008. Disaster Medicine and Public Health 2012 Dec; 6 (4): 363-9

Health Impacts

-- Health Impacts --

CDC: Hypothermia(link is external)

CDC: Frostbite(link is external)

US Department of Health and Human Services ( Seasonal Flu(link is external)

Analitis, A., et al. Effects of Cold Weather on Mortality: Results from 15 European Cities Within the PHEWE Project. American Journal of Epidemiology 2008(link is external); 168 (12): 1397-1408

Mercer, JB. Cold - An Underrated Risk Factor for Health.(link is external) Environmental Research 2003; 92 (1): 8-13

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Health Effects of Cold(link is external)

Nayha, S.: Cold and the risk of cardiovascular diseases(link is external). A review. Int J Circumpolar Health 2002 Nov; 61 (4): 373-80

Smirniotopoulos, James. Dangers of Carbon Monoxide(link is external): MedPix COW No. 699 (YouTube)

CDC, NIOSH: Cold Stress

Healthcare systems

Evacuation & Sheltering

Psychosocial Impact

Community Health & Recovery

Learning Objectives & Activities- Winter Weather

Winter Weather Emergencies - Ideas for Educators of Health Professionals

Below are ideas for educators who are teaching health professionals and may wish to develop learning content or activities related to health impacts of winter weather. These ideas should be customized based on the learners, their needs, scope of practice, and the educational context.

Options for Learning Objectives:

At the end of the learning activity, the learner will be able to:

  1. Explain how winter weather and storms impact human health, especially in health systems, clinical, and public health dimensions.

  2. State ways in which health professionals can contribute to preparedness for, response to, and recovery from winter weather emergencies given their scope of practice.

  3. Critically analyze the multiple role-based expectations of health professionals in winter weather emergencies. Major role categories include:

    • individual

    • family (significant others)

    • organization

    • profession

    • community

  4. Describe strategies for safe sheltering practices during extreme cold and snow events.

Options for Learning Activities:

  1. Walk through the resources online during class and discuss their applicability and utility for the learner.

  2. Lead a class discussion about the health and systems impacts of winter weather. Possible discussion questions are:

    • Describe the types of illness and injury associated with winter weather and storms.

    • What are the public health implications of winter weather emergencies?

    • What effects might a winter storm have on different health systems, such as hospitals, EMS, and healthcare coalitions?

    • What information should health professionals provide for safe sheltering during an extreme cold or snow event?

  3. Ask learners to respond to the following question, either verbally or in writing: How can you as a health professional, within your scope of practice, contribute to the preparedness for, response to, and recovery from a winter weather emergency?

  4. In the context of a winter weather disaster, consider the following:

    • What do you expect of yourself?

    • What does your family (significant others) expect of you?

    • What does your organization expect of you?

    • What does your profession expect of you?

    • What does the community expect of you?

  5. Invite learners to work in small groups to draft a public service announcement for your county on actions citizens should take to reduce injury and death from winter weather emergencies.

  6. Invite a member of another response professional group to discuss interprofessional coordination and collaboration necessary in response to a winter storm. Discuss barriers to such interprofessional coordination and collaboration.

  7. As a group, identify a population that is particularly vulnerable to adverse health effects during a winter weather emergency. Develop strategies that could be implemented to protect their well-being during these events. What professions or organizations in your local community could participate in this effort?