Preparing for Winter Storms

Winter can be challenging when temperatures drop and air is cold and often dry—especially for those living with lung disease. And major snowstorms or other winter weather events can be dangerous for everyone. Power outages, extreme cold, icy roads and poor heating systems are some of the potential hazards when a winter storm hits. With climate change bringing more extreme fluctuations in weather, the need to prepare for winter storms is even greater and it's important to be ready in the event of severe weather to know how to keep your lungs safe and healthy.

Power Outages

While power outages can happen unexpectedly, preparation is key. A power outage could last a few hours to a few days, or longer.
Tips to stay safe

Extreme Cold

Sudden changes in the weather as well as extreme weather conditions, such as a cold front that might accompany a winter storm, can make symptoms worse when you have chronic lung disease. The cold, dry air can irritate airways and cause coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Follow your action plan and contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen. Limit your exposure to cold and wind. If you need to go outside, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf and breathe through your nose. Don’t try to exercise outside in severe cold weather. If you shovel snow, watch your symptoms and do not overexert yourself.

Check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure that their homes are safely heated and ventilated. Older adults and young children are more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.

For more information on protecting your lungs in winter weather, please contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.

Page last updated: March 7, 2023

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