Prepared For The Bitter Cold Weather?
Are you, your family and pets prepared for the unseasonably cold temperatures and sub-zero wind chill values that are forecast throughout our area?
The Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management wants to remind residents to check on the status of your neighbors and family members, especially those that are elderly or disabled. Older adults with inadequate food, clothing or heating are most at risk to becoming victims of hypothermia. As are babies sleeping in cold bedrooms and people who remain outdoors for long periods – the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
Also pay attention to your pets, as they too are vulnerable to these frigid temperatures. They need a warm place to be, food and water that isn’t frozen.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Do you know what the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia are? Individuals that have poor blood circulation or are not properly dressed for extremely cold temperatures are the most at risk of frostbite. If you notice redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin as frostbite may be beginning.
Some signs and symptoms of frostbite are numbness, a white or grayish-yellow skin area, and skin that feels unusually firm or waxy. A person who has frostbite may not know they have it until someone else points it out because the frozen parts of their body are numb. If you notice signs of frostbite on yourself or someone else, you should seek medical care.
The warning signs of hypothermia in adults are shivering, exhaustion or feeling very tired, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Some warning signs for babies are bright red, cold skin and very low energy.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If you notice any of the above signs, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get medical attention immediately.
Pipes Can Freeze
You should also be aware that pipes can freeze in these extreme cold temperatures. If you are going to be away a few days, leave your thermostat on heat to prevent freezing. Check pipes that pass through unheated spaces or rooms, such as crawlspaces, basements, garages, or uninsulated exterior walls. Protect exposed pipes by wrapping them with heat tape, pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation (available from local hardware stores).
For kitchen or other sinks up against cold, exterior walls, open cabinets to let the warm air in your home to reach the pipes and allow a small trickle of water to run from your faucets overnight to help keep pipes from freezing.
If your pipes do freeze you should shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off, because freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints that will leak when thawed.
DO NOT apply an open flame to frozen pipes; it’s best to expose the pipes to warmer air. Once the pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for cracks and leaks.
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