Caution Urged During Cold Weather
January 5, 2015
The National Weather Service is warning of cold temperatures for much of this week. Wind chills will be below-zero for an extended period this week and could be as low as 50-degrees below zero in Northern Maine. Those temperatures pose a danger to health and property.
Some steps are listed below to take to keep yourself, your family, your pets, and any elderly or homebound neighbors safe during this period of very cold weather:
Monitor weather reports. Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or disabled relatives, neighbors, and friends to ensure their safety.
Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young. Also, consider your pets and limit their time outdoors.
Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that is frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
Hypothermia can occur in extreme cases. The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If the person’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity.
When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher handy; ensuring everyone knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors.
If you lose power or heat, try to keep pipes from freezing. Leave cabinet doors around them open to allow as much heat as possible to reach them. Wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of warm water (if available) to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past. This will keep the water moving so it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe bursts.
Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit in the trunk including blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshields scraper and brush, shovel, sand, towrope, and jumper cables.