The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Watch for Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties from late Thursday afternoon (12/15) until Friday morning (12/16) with wind chills making it feel well below 0 degrees.
“Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, and those who work outdoors, but anyone can be affected,” said Dr. Joseph Schmidt, vice chair, Emergency Medicine, Baystate Medical Center.
Dr. Schmidt noted the most common cold-related problems resulting from prolonged exposure to the cold are hypothermia and frostbite.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) urges residents to take precautions with these safety tips:
- Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens (not gloves), and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately. The warning signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
- Have a well-stocked home Emergency Kit that includes a flashlight, sleeping bag or blanket, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable food.
- Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit including blankets, extra clothing, a flashlight with spare batteries, waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshields scraper, shovel, sand, towrope, and jumper cables in the trunk.
- Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions, and those who may need additional assistance.
- Limit outdoor time for your pets. Freezing temperatures are dangerous to animals as well as humans.
For additional Extreme Cold Safety Tips, visit www.mass.gov/mema/cold.