Tips for the upcoming extreme cold temperatures

If you don’t already know, it’s about to get cold. Like, really cold. About 220 million people -- or 75% of the continental US population -- will endure below-freezing temperatures this week. The mid-west, including, Ohio, will feel the worst of it starting tonight and into Wednesday. 

Do you know how to deal with such extreme cold temperatures? In fact, Tom Sater, meteorologist with CNN, said that if you're 25 years old or younger, "you've never felt this cold before”. Now that’s something to think about!

Weather predictions are indicating that between now and Thursday, temperatures will plunge to 20-40 degrees below zero in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. And wind chills will plummet to 35-60 below zero. These kinds of extreme cold temperatures can easily cause frostbite and hypothermia if you are outside for too long. 

dresswarmMake sure your hands, feet, and face are completely covered up.   

Dress for the Weather – Forget About Fashion!

The number one word of advice for staying warm, and avoiding frostbite or hypothermia, is dressing properly in loose-fitting layers. When you dress in layers, the air between each of those layers will become warm from your body heat – which in turn keeps you warmer. 

Make sure your hands, feet and face are completely covered up. Breathing in such cold air can actually damage the delicate lining of your lungs. Also, mittens tend to keep your hands warmer than gloves.

What Are the Signs of Frostbite and Hypothermia?

Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.

  • Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin
  • Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.

Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.

  • Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness
  • Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.

handwithfrostbiteFrostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.

Scott Campbell, MD, emergency medicine at Firelands Regional Medical Center had this to say about exposing skin to severe cold, “Fingers, toes and the tip of the nose are most susceptible to frostbite due to circulation. A nagging, burning sensation is the first clue of injury and warning to get out of cold or further protect that particular body part. If the area becomes red, then white or waxy, then loss of sensation, you are experiencing early frostbite. 

The amount of time it takes to get frostbite varies depending on underlying medical conditions and overall health of the individual. In general, if it’s very cold with wind chills below zero, frostbite can occur within 30 minutes – on exposed skin. However, the wind accelerates loss of heat from the body. For example, if it is 0 degrees F, and wind is blowing 15mph, then the wind chill is -19 degrees F. Under these conditions, frostbite can occur within 30 minutes. If wind chill goes to -60, then frostbite can occur within 10 minutes.”

Playing it Safe Around the House

If you have pipes in uninsulated areas around your home, like the garage or crawl space, make sure you cover them properly. This means wrapping them with an insulating material, such as a foam tube, or heat tape. 

coldpetRemember to bring your pets inside and make sure livestock have access to fresh drinking water.

During this type of weather, you may be more apt to use your space heater. This is fine, but make sure to keep them some feet away from furniture, curtains drapes, and other soft material which could become a fire hazard. 

According to Consumers Energy, a Michigan-based public utility company, carbon monoxide poisonings are "most prevalent in the winter" when people use furnaces with windows and doors closed. Make sure you have audible carbon monoxide alarms installed throughout your house. If you already have alarms, make sure they have fresh batteries.

It’s also important to remember your pets and livestock during the cold weather. Bring your pets inside, and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water. 

Warming Shelter Available During Extreme Cold 

As a reminder, the City of Sandusky has a warming shelter available at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church on Eddy Henry Way. If you lose power, or do not have access to adequate heat, please go to this shelter. Or, if you know of anyone who would benefit from this, please spread the word.