Bitter cold can be a danger
Wind chills that could dip to 60 below zero in coming days mean dangerous conditions for the Upper Midwest.
They have prompted state and federal officials to warn of problems and advise how to deal with winter weather:
• A family should have a home winter plan and a survival kit. The plan needs to include how to keep warm if there is an extended power outage and a kit should include food and other necessities. The kit also should include a battery-powered radio (perhaps a weather radio) or television and extra batteries as well as a flashlight, bottled water, non-perishable foods and other necessities.
• Cold puts extra strain on a person's heart, so “take it easy” is the advice. On the other hand, overheating also can lead to problems.
• Drinking water regularly helps a body.
• Frostbite and hypothermia may be avoided by warming extremities frequently.
• Children may like to play outside, but blowing snow can make it easy to get lost. And skin damage may occur after a very few minutes outside in the predicted frigid wind chills.
• Adults always should be near children outdoors in extremely cold conditions.
• Streets, and especially snowplows, should be avoided by people on foot.
• People who do go outside should return indoors for frequent warm-up breaks.
• Ice on streams and lakes may not be thick enough to be safe, even after bitter cold temperatures.
• Pets should have shelter, preferably indoors. Outdoor animals need access to non-frozen water and food.
• The elderly, those with disabilities and others who are vulnerable should remain in contact with family and neighbors.
• Generators, grills and stoves used inside may produce dangerous, but odorless, carbon dioxide. Every house should have at least one CO detector. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness nausea, chest pain and confusion.
• Road conditions are available in Minnesota and adjoining states at www.511mn.org and in most states by calling 511.
• A winter survival kit for a vehicle should include small candles, matches, sharp knife, red cloth, pencil, paper, snacks, mobile telephone car adapter, flashlight and spare batteries.
• The Minnesota Public Safety Department has one overarching suggestion for people stranded in their vehicles: “Calm down and think. The storm will end and you will be found.” In the meantime, people should keep fresh air in their car and do what they can to stay warm without using fuel.
• Home fires often occur in cold weather, so extra safety precautions should be observed.
• People who do not speak English may call (888) 883-8831 to hear a message with cold safety tips in Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo, Russian, Lao, Khmer, Vietnamese and Arabic.