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Deaths Are Bitter Reminder Of Cold Snap's Dangers

While this week's super-cold conditions across much of the nation are fascinating and fun for many of us, there is a far more serious side to the story.

As The Associated Press says, the bone-chilling cold has "followed inches of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous." The weather has been blamed for "numerous deaths in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio."

Of the at least 15 deaths that authorities have so far linked to the weather, 11 involved traffic accidents that happened during icy or stormy conditions, CNN reports.

Among the other deaths, as we've reported, was that of a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who wandered away from her rural home in western New York state.

The Weather Channel has rounded up news about weather-related fatalities here.

We don't want to be nags, but we do want to point again to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's tips on staying safe in winter. Among them:

-- "Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers."

-- "Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots."

-- "Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house, basement and garage. ... Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house." [To guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.]

-- "If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival."

-- "If you become stranded in your car. ... Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away, but continue to move arms and legs. Stay visible by putting bright cloth on the antenna, turning on the inside overhead light (when engine is running), and raising the hood when snow stops falling. Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour. Keep a downwind window open. Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked."

The CDC ends with this:

"Above all, be prepared to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink."

And for tips on preventing frostbite, check out this post from the Shots blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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