As record low temperatures and wind chills continue to grip Northeast Ohio, staying warm and safe can be a challenge. By being proactive and taking the proper precautions, you can minimize the dangers presented by severe cold weather.
When the weather is dangerously cold, it is best to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible, and remember these tips to protect yourself:
- Minimize outside activities and avoid exertion.
- Dress warmly; bundle up in layers and be sure to keep your hands and head covered. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Keep dry; remove wet clothing as soon as possible.
- Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion, severe shivering. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
- Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin. If you think you may have frostbite, get out of the cold as soon as possible and seek medical care.
- Prevent frozen pipes – run water at a trickle to help prevent them from freezing.
- When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions.
- If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the gaps under the doors. At night, cover windows with blankets or sheets.
- Some cities offer temporary warming centers during extreme cold. Many are open 24 hours and residents may visit the centers for shelter, warmth and wash facilities. Contact United Way 2-1-1 to find the nearest location.
- Check on elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure their safety.
- And don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm with access to unfrozen water.
While winter weather is often difficult to predict, United Way 2-1-1 provides 24-hour information, resources and referrals for those in need. Dial 2-1-1 or visit 211Cleveland.org