Dangerous cold is here, tips for safety

By: Melissa Randall

Protecting oneself from the bitter cold is going to be a top priority Thursday. Kids who do have to head to the bus stop should bundle up as those dangerous temps will start taking a toll as soon as you open the door. That’s why a handful of schools in the Southern New England area are closed.

With temperatures dipping way below freezing school districts including Providence, Fall River and New Bedford canceled classes for the day. For those who do have to head out into the bitter cold it’s advised that you dress accordingly.

Frostbite can develop in just 30 minutes if proper precautions aren’t taken. Symptoms include skin discoloration and numbness. Hypothermia is also possible. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

The Rhode Island EMA has put together a list of tips for those venturing outdoors. They ask that people consider the following:

  •     Cover your face and neck to limit exposure of bare skin to the cold
  •     Dress in layers in order to restrain heat
  •    Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket.
  •    Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite

Signs of frostbite include gray, white, or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, and/or waxy feeling skin. Signs of hypothermia include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention right away if experiencing these symptoms.

Pets can get cold, too. It’s advised that animals are kept inside and limit their exposure to the extreme cold.

The RI EMA says it is also important to remember that house fires occur more frequently in the winter due to a lack of proper safety precautions when using alternate heating sources, such as unattended fire and space heaters. Tips for staying safe include:

  •    Placing space heaters at least 3 feet away from wallpaper, bedding and clothes
  •    Never leave them running when you are not in the room or when you go to bed
  •    Refrain from drying clothes over a space heater

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