“You don’t want to stay outside for a long period of time. Frostbite can happen within a matter of minutes if you’re not protected.”
Diane Madak-Lamont, Supervising Sanitarian, Cortland County Health Department
The blast of Arctic air expected Thursday evening will be the coldest so far this winter, and with us through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
Diane Madak-Lamont is a Supervising Sanitarian with the Cortland County Health Department. She suggests you stay inside if possible. “Dress appropriately,” she added. “Wear layers. Minimize the amount of exposed skin because these areas like your nose and your cheeks and your fingers, toes, feet are probably the most vulnerable areas on your body.”
The weather service warns that dangerously cold wind chills between 10 to 30 below zero will cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes. “Frostbite. You’re going to start to notice redness and pain in exposed areas,” said Madak-Lamont. “Your skin is going to change tone and texture. That’s another symptom that you should get inside immediately.”
Meteorologists expect the lowest wind chills late Friday through early Saturday.
“If possible, don’t stay out for long periods of time,” advised Madak-Lamont. “Outdoor workers, your utility workers and anyone who has to spend time outdoors, they should be very mindful of that.”
Hypothermia is another concern. “Hypothermia is an issue because you start to get very sluggish, slurred speech, you start to shiver…and that’s usually an indication that you’ve got to get into someplace warm.”
If you have to drive, be prepared, says Madak-Lamont. “Take a care kit in your car. Take a blanket with you. Take water. Take granola bars or whatever in case you’re stuck someplace. At least you’ll be able to subsist for a little while until help can get to you.”
The very cold air could also cause freezing of vulnerable exposed plumbing.
Thursday morning, the Governor planned to activate the State Emergency Operations Center at what’s called a Level 4 enhanced monitoring mode with State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services – Office of Emergency Management staff.