As residents of the "Sunshine State", we tend not to think much of cold weather. Although we are a state known for its mild winters, we have as many people die from the cold as those who die from the summer heat.
According to a study from 1979 through 1999, 249 people in Florida died from temperature extremes - 125 from heat and 124 from cold. Our elderly and infirm are especially at risk to temperature extremes, with the majority of cold-related deaths in people over the age of 60. Also at risk are people with medical conditions, such as diabetes, who cannot tolerate too much cold.
Along with the direct deaths caused by cold weather are the injuries and deaths caused from fires or toxic fumes related to portable heating devices. Extreme caution and care must be used when using such devices.
Cold Weather Safety Tips
- Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
- Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles, keep such devices away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture. Install recommended smoke detectors.
- Indoors, do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
- Outdoors, stay dry and in wind protected areas.
- Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and eat high-caloric foods.
Cold Weather Terminology
- Freeze: A freeze occurs when surface air temperature is below freezing (32° F) over a widespread area for a significant period of time. A freeze is a term used for the condition when these low air temperatures injure vegetation, regardless if frost is deposited.
- Frost: A cover of ice crystals produced by deposition of atmospheric water directly on a surface at or below freezing.
- Freeze Warning: Issued when minimum temperatures are expected to fall at or below 32 degrees for 2 hours or more. A freeze warning is issued by the National Weather Service to make agricultural interests and the public aware of anticipated freeze conditions over a large area.
- Hard Freeze Warning: Issued when minimum temperatures are expected to fall at or below 28 degrees for 2 hours or more. A hard freeze warning is issued by the National Weather Service to make agricultural interests and the public aware of anticipated freeze conditions that are of four-hour durations or greater, below 28 degrees, and over a large area.
The 5 P's of Cold Weather
- Protect People
- Protect Plants
- Protect Pets
- Protect Exposed Pipes
- Practice Fire Safety