Arctic Cold

Until Wednesday morning, the weather forecast is calling for the coldest temperatures the Mid-Ohio Valley has seen in years. With lows in the single digits – and even below zero on Tuesday – being forecast, and highs barely in the teens, the weather is posing an extreme danger for people who venture out even for a small amount of time.

With winds also in the forecast, the windchill will make the temperature feel even lower.

Frostbite and hypothermia are two of the biggest dangers of exposure to cold weather. Frostbite causes a “pins and needles” feeling along with a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in the fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. With the windchill, frostbite can appear in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes. If not quickly addressed, frostbite can cause amputation of the affected extremities, and, in some cases, death. If this “pins and needles” feeling occurs, get inside as soon as possible.

Hypothermia causes about 700 deaths a year in the U.S. Hypothermia can happen when the body’s temperature drops to 95 degrees or lower and can be fatal if its not promptly detected and properly treated. Symptoms include confusion, sleepiness and slurring your speech. In the most severe stage, the heart can dangerously slow down. The elderly are the most susceptible to cold-weather dangers because many times they do not realize they are getting cold until it is too late. If you have elderly neighbors, it may be a good idea to check to make sure they are warm enough even in their homes. Ask if they need anything from the store. This will prevent them from having to get out in the cold.

The best way for all of us to avoid cold-weather issues is to stay inside. However, we know this isn’t possible. So, wear warm clothing in layers. This traps the heat between layers and keeps it from escaping. Also, limit your time outside. If you are an avid runner or walker, maybe skip these two days or limit your time outside. People who commute should have a cold-weather kit in the vehicle, including a blanket or sleeping bag, a flashlight, water and non-perishable food such as nuts.

If you are outside and begin to feel like you are becoming too cold, immediately get inside and seek help.

And don’t forget the pets. If your pet stays outside, consider bringing it inside. If this is not possible, make sure it has a warm place away from the cold. Animals are susceptible to the same cold-weather dangers as people.

Please be safe during this stretch of weather.