Survival expert provides tips on how to stay warm, safe in extreme cold

ETN: Survival expert provides tips on how to stay warm, safe in extreme cold

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Temperatures across East Texas remain dangerously low. East Texas Now spoke with a survival expert about how you can keep yourself safe.

Mark Weinert tells us a key factor is recognizing the difference between just being uncomfortably cold and being in real danger.

“The first thing is to understand that the situation that you’re in could be life threatening,” he said.

Weinert tells us hypothermia is the biggest threat during cold weather.

“If you have to check somebody’s temperature and it’s 95 degrees or below, then you’re a candidate for freezing to death,” he said.

Retaining body heat comes down to the same concept used to keep heat from escaping a house -- insulation.

And insulating your body can keep the hypothermia threat low. Weinert explains the concept of what insulation means for the body.

“That’s the dead air between your T-shirt and your skin, between your shirt and your T-shirt. It traps the air there and acts like insulation. You can use blankets. You can use newspaper, cardboard, plastic bags,” Weinert said.

With the power still out to many homes, some East Texans are seeing temperatures inside their homes drop into the 30s and 40s.

Weinert suggests combating that cold by using mattresses to build an indoor shelter.

“Make like a teepee almost or like a V-shaped structure with mattresses and a mattress on the bottom,” he said. “Stuff it full of blankets. Blanket over the top. Crawl in and you’re nice and toasty for the night.”

And if you’re stranded in your vehicle, be aware of the increased potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

“That’s a pretty tough place to be in especially with these temperatures that are life threatening,” Weinert said. “If you have an older vehicle and you’re running your heater — all vehicles – you want to vent that window. Make sure you have air flow.”

And make sure there’s no snow blocking your tailpipe. A blocked tailpipe means your car’s fumes become part of the air you’re breathing.

While this extreme cold is rare for East Texas, Weinert says you should always be prepared for it.

“Put some stuff in your car in the winter. Blankets, food. You need a gallon of water per person, per day. Having flares is really good. You can start fires with those.”

Weinert also says be aware of the traffic around you if you get stranded in your vehicle, especially if you spin out and get stuck in a location where other motorists could crash into you. He says it’s key to keep your seat belt on in this situation.

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