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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Mayor Fischer, City Leaders Urge Community to be Prepared for Major Winter Storm, Extreme Cold

Sunday January 5, 2014

Mayor Greg Fischer and emergency response officials are urging citizens to be prepared for a major winter storm headed toward Louisville that is likely to bring significant snowfall along with bitterly cold temperatures.

“From all indications, this storm will bring sustained cold weather that the city hasn’t seen in many years,” Fischer said. “People should be prepared to protect themselves, their families, friends and neighbors.

”The mayor met this afternoon with the city’s emergency and first responders to ensure the city is prepared for the coming storm. “From our Public Works Department — which is ready to treat roads — to our police, fire and EMS, we stand ready to respond rapidly,” Fischer said.

Local homeless shelters are operating on White Flag, meaning that no one is turned way.To help keep people safe during the day, Jefferson Street Baptist (733 E. Jefferson) will be extending its Day Shelter on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to 4pm.

To keep folks safe at night, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and Wayside Christian Mission will be providing White Flag lodging and Jefferson Street Baptist is also adding additional beds for 20 men today and Monday.Wayside, Seven Counties and the Veteran's Administration all have outreach teams working to get the homeless inside during the extreme weather.

The city’s MetroSafe leadership, along with the Department of Public Health and Wellness, released the following tips for dealing with cold weather:

  • Dress Warmly and Stay Dry
  • Dress in layers.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
  • Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
  • Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
  • Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.
  • Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
  • Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because infants lose body heat more easily than adults.


  • When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.
  • Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.
  • Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
  • Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
  • Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

Recognizing Hypothermia

Warnings signs of hypothermia:

Adults: shivering, exhaustion confusion, fumbling hands memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness

Infants: bright red, cold skin very low energy

What to Do
If you notice any of these signs, the situation is an emergency — get medical attention immediately.

Be a Good Neighbor

  • A winter emergency like this is a time for all of us to be good neighbors. We especially need to look out for the elderly.
  • Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity.
  • Many elderly live alone and have limited mobility…some even have no family close by. They may even have special medical needs so check in on them.

Eat and Drink Wisely

  • Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer.
  • Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help maintain your body temperature. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Look Out For Pets

  • Bring pets inside
  • When you take pets outside, go with them. Don’t let them go alone.
  • The city has many community cats -- before starting your car, tap on the hood. Cats will seek shelter in engines during cold weather.

Avoid Exertion

  • If you haven’t exercised or been very physically active, now is not the time to go out and shovel your driveway in a hurry.
  • Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.
  • If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • If power outages occur, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause carbon monoxide to build up in a home, garage, or camper and then poison the people and animals inside.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.
  • Every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector. The detector’s batteries should be checked twice annually, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never run a generator or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.