With the temperature forcast well below zero tonight Residents are advised to take the following cold-weather precautions:
• Stay indoors and minimize outside activities, especially for elderly residents and young children.
• If you use electricity, make sure you have emergency heating equipment. When using alternative heating sources, such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions. Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
• The state fire marshal is warning residents to be extra careful with space heaters, which present a fire risk. Use them in a 3-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can catch fire. Keep in mind that they are not designed to replace a central heating system, they are designed only to provide a little extra heat on a temporary basis. Be sure to turn off space heaters when you leave a room or go to bed at night.
• Residents who see homeless people outside during the extreme cold are encouraged to call 911 so public safety officials can check on their well-being.
• Check on elderly or vulnerable neighbors to make sure they have what they need to withstand the cold.
• 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 hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots to protect fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose.
• If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
• If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well.
• Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter, or one that has frozen in the past. This will keep water moving so that it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe bursts.
• Keep an emergency supply kit that includes flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and nonperishable food.
• Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half full, and carry a kit in the trunk that includes blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), nonperishable foods, a windshield scraper, a shovel, a sand tow rope and jumper cables.
Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that is frozen. Hypothermia can occur in extreme cases. The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If a person’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
If medical assistance is not available, slowly warm up the person by wrapping the person in a blanket or using your own body heat. Do not warm the extremities first, because this drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure. Do not give the person alcohol. Warm liquids and foods are best.