A strong cold front with bitterly cold temperatures is expected to impact Racine County this weekend through Tuesday. According to the national Weather Service, wind chills will tumble to between 10-12 degrees below zero Sunday night into Monday and between 15 and 25 degrees below zero Monday night into early Tuesday.
As a result, the Racine County Office of Emergency Management is suggesting that residents plan ahead. “If you do not have to be out in this weather, don’t,” commented David Maack, Racine County Emergency Management Coordinator, “Frostbite and hypothermia are two large risks to those who venture out.”
To minimize the risk of these two winter dangers, Maack encourages everyone to dress for the weather. Frostbite will affect exposed skin. Therefore, cover as much of your body as you can. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves and don’t forget to wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat. Finally, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
If the power should go out, stay warm by dressing in layers. Choose a small room with few windows as your emergency living quarters. Keep the windows, drapes, and doors closed. If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can use it for heat. However, DO NOT USE kerosene heaters, BBQs, or any outdoor type heater inside. Such devices create poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas given off by combustion and could kill.
If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
Finally, remember that pets need special attention during this cold spell. Limit your pet’s exposure to the cold temperatures, and wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when coming inside from a walk. Be sure to clean their feet when they return to the house, as dogs can digest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking their paws.
ReadyRacine is a campaign from Racine County Emergency Management with a mission to prepare individuals, families and businesses for emergencies and disasters. For additional winter safety tips, visit www.ready.gov and don’t forget to check out our blog at readyracine.blogspot.com.