The Advocate

A New Yorker in winter clothes prepares to cross a snowy street as a yellowcab and another car drive

Winter Storm Preparedness And Safety Guide

December 20th, 2023

As our climate changes, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events can lead to an increased risk of hazardous winter weather. Special and careful precautions should be taken by those who are 65 years or older, those with serious medical and mental health conditions, infants, and the unhoused population. This post is dedicated to providing New Yorkers with the tips and resources they need to prepare for hazardous cold and winter weather.

Know Your Terms

It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the proper advisory terms for Winter Storms, Freezing Rain, Snow, and Wind Chill. Visit the National Weather Service's winter weather terminology guide to learn more.

Cold Weather Health Emergencies

New Yorkers can develop serious health problems from extended exposure to cold temperatures. In freezing temperatures, it’s possible to develop hypothermia and/or frostbite.


What is it?: A medical emergency that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it.

Effects: Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, causing the individual to be unable to think clearly or move well.

Signs for Adults: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, drowsiness, slurred speech

Signs for Infants: Bright red, cold skin, very low energy

What to Do:

  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • If medical care is not available:
    • Get into a warm room
    • Remove any wet clothes
    • Warm the center of the body first: chest, neck, head
    • Drink warm beverages


What is it?: Damage to the skin and tissue that is caused by exposure to freezing temperatures below 31 degrees Fahrenheit.

Effects: Causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas (nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes). Frostbite can permanently damage the body and in severe cases lead to amputation.

Signs: Areas of white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, numbness.

What to Do:

  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • If medical care is not available:
    • Get into a warm room
    • Do not walk on frostbitten toes or feet; this increases damage
    • Immerse the affected area in warm – not hot – water
    • Warm the affected area using body heat
    • Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned

Staying Warm During the Winter Weather

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