CPR First Aid

Are Instant Heat Pads Effective in a Blizzard?

Are Instant Heat Pads Effective in a Blizzard?

Technology has come a long way. With each passing day, people are constantly innovating and introducing new techniques and products for all of man’s problems. 

Most of the problems that people are facing are primal and have been present for many years. The weather, for example, is one thing that people still battle to this day.

One dangerous weather event we’ll be looking at is a blizzard and whether instant heat pads are effective in surviving one.

A Weather Report

Blizzards are extreme weather event that is dangerous as it is cold. The severity of this weather pattern is further amplified when we understand that it is a stronger version of a snowstorm. 


As the name suggests, a snowstorm is a combination of a storm and snow where the precipitates that fall are snowflakes. During the winter, the temperatures are so high that the clouds make snow instead of rain. 

It only becomes a storm though when several factors are involved.

First, the snowfall must be very heavy, more than usual and enough to become a hindrance to people. 

The other factor involved in the howling winds of a storm that blow the snow every which way. 

Finally, the temperature must be below 0°C. 

While typically not as dangerous as other weather conditions, it can bring about loads of snow that can present problems for the population.

An Intensified Snowstorm

In order for a snowstorm to intensify and be classified as such, several more factors must come into play. 

For one, the duration must be lengthy, lasting a minimum of three hours. Within this lengthened time frame, the amount of snow produced is increased. 

In addition, winds must pick up and maintain at 35 miles an hour. 

The quick winds blow the snow around, and due to their speed, decrease visibility for people. This visibility is the final factor as it needs to hinder people at a distance of a quarter of a mile. Winds can even pick up and be as fast as a category two hurricane. 

When all of these factors converge, it is now considered a blizzard.

What Intense Snowstorms Do to People?

Piling Traffic and Accidents

The most obvious effect on people is how it affects traffic. This frigid weather condition can hit so suddenly that it can catch people when they are on the road. The lowered visibility and the slippery roads make people drive a lot slower in the interest of safety. 

For those who continue to drive recklessly, it usually ends in a car crash. 

These things are further worsened because medical personnel are also afflicted with these. This means that if accidents happen, it will be harder for them to reach the people and help. 

Infrastructure and Environment Damage

The intensified snowstorm can similarly damaged houses, power lines, and cell towers. If damaged, it could expose people to the cold more, leave them without electricity, and even without a means of communication. 

The environment is also not safe from the effects of the strong cold winds and snow. Plants and trees can be uprooted and ruined. This also affects the wildlife, as they are left without homes and food to eat.

Effects of People

Finally, extreme cold from this storm can bring about a number of negative conditions and symptoms to people. This is the prime environment for hypothermia and even frostbite

When a person’s core body temperature drops, the body takes blood and uses it to warm vital organs in order to survive. Unfortunately, this blood is taken away from the extremities such as fingers, toes, and ears just to name a few. 

If it continues, frostbite could set in, with extremities losing all feeling and risking permanent damage. On the horizon, death looms. 

Heated blankets and electric heating pads were created to better handle hypothermia. Now, we look at whether the instant variety of heat pads can also do the trick.

Are Instant Heat Pads Effective?

How Do They Work?

Back in the day, people had pads that they could heat in a variety of ways. Once heated, it could be used as a hot compress or for warmth. Now though, people have innovated and created instant ones that warm up quickly.

These small packs have a light disc held within. All a person needs to do is click this disc to start the heating process.

The liquid in the pack passes through the disc, making its temperature rise to 54°C, with some reaching as high as 82°C. 

Uses for these pads include heat therapy, muscle and joint pains, as well as relaxing muscles. They can also be used to heat various items. What about in blizzards? 

Are They Effective in Snowstorms?

Unfortunately, these pads are likely to do little when caught in a blizzard. This is largely due to our body’s response to extreme cold.

As stated previously, our body aims to preserve the core temperature of the organs inside. This allows for increased chances of survival. In doing so though, it is likely to narrow the blood vessels and draw away blood from extremities like fingers and toes. 

Does It At Least Help With Shivering?

One would think that the heating pads would help with shivering. However, in understanding the nature of shivering, even this is negated. 

Shivering is our body’s way of keeping the core temperature up. The body burns food in our body and creates heat. Thus, shivering is not helped by external heat sources, at least with regards to surviving or staving off symptoms of hypothermia. 

So, unfortunately, instant heat pads are not effective in blizzards. 

Surviving an Intense Snowstorm

Even though these pads may not hold well in these crazy snow conditions, there are a number of other ways people can survive.


For starters, one of the best things to do is stay prepared. Begin by checking weather reports at the start of each day and even week. This is especially the case if it is the season for snowstorms. 

With that information, plan accordingly. Get all the supplies you need and plan out your days to get around this extreme weather condition. 

Layer Up

If you need to go out during this storm, then it is important to layer up as much as possible. For this, the best practice is to have several layers of thin clothing on, and not just a singular thick layer. 

In addition, wear ear muffs, gloves or mittens, a scarf, and anything else that can help keep the body’s temperature up. 

Find Warmth and Shelter

Finally, one should always seek the comfort of shelter and warmth in a strong snowstorm. The goal here is to stay dry and safe from the weather. If one is not able to find a house or a shack, they can build a lean-to or find a snow cave.

Once in, they can build a fire to keep temperatures high. 

Knowledge Hand in Hand With Innovation

Despite the innovation that instant heat pads bring, they are unfortunately ineffective in the face of a blizzard.

This shouldn’t be something to worry about, as more innovations will no doubt come, giving more solutions to the blistering cold. 

As always, innovation is paired best with knowledge. In this case, the knowledge of the weather and how our bodies react to the extreme cold can always come in handy when in a pinch.

Knowledge of first aid practices can also help people stay prepared in both harsh weather and emergency medical conditions.

Learn more about first aid with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course. 

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