An overnight cold front will thrust a shock of arctic air into Westchester County, and is expected to be followed by 40 mph wind gusts through Saturday, with temperatures predicted to drop as low as 10 below zero.
County Executive George Latimer said: “The extremely cold temperatures that are predicted for the coming days are colder than what we have experienced so far this winter, so it is important that we be reminded of what to do when the arctic weather hits. Residents should avoid staying outside if possible, dress in layers and keep pets indoors. Make sure you have enough oil in your tank, gas in your car, and check on your neighbors and relatives who may need extra help."
Latimer said the County’s Department of Emergency Services (DES) and Health Department offers a broad range of practical advice to help residents prepare for a major winter storm, and stay safe when one occurs. For the latest on shelter availability, contact your local municipality. Libraries, municipal buildings and malls are open to the public, and also good places to warm up.
Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, said: “Before you go out in this dangerous cold, dress yourself and your children appropriately in a hat, gloves and multiple layers. When driving, keep blankets in your car in case of a breakdown. If you must spend time outdoors, take frequent breaks to warm up inside. Know and recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.”
Hypothermia occurs when a body exposed to cold begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Warnings signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In infants, look for bright red, cold skin and low energy. If you see any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, get medical attention immediately.
Those who are especially vulnerable to hypothermia include elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating, babies sleeping in cold bedrooms and people who remain outdoors for long periods, as well as alcohol and substance use disorders.
Frostbite is an injury that causes a loss of feeling and color and most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can cause permanent damage. The risk is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, move the person out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Seek immediate medical care. Signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin, numbness or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy. Victims are often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
Here’s how to avoid hypothermia and frostbite:
- Dress warmly in layers.
- Be aware of the wind chill factor.
- Work slowly when doing outside chores.
- Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
- Carry a cell phone.
More advice can be found at: http://keepingsafe.westchestergov.com and www.westchestergov.com/health follows.
- Avoid tragedy: never use a natural gas or propane stove or your kitchen oven to heat your home.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using alternate heating sources like space heaters and wood burning stoves.
- Never place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture or bedding, on top of furniture or near water, and never cover your space heater.
- Never leave children or pets unattended near a space heater, fireplace or wood burning stove.
If the power goes out:
- Call the local utility company to inform it of the power outage. Con Edison’s 24-hour hotline is 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633) and NYSEG's hotline service is 1-800-572-1131.
- Leave a light on to let you know when power has been restored.
- Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of candles, as candles are a fire hazard.
- Limit opening the refrigerator and freezer doors as much as possible.
- Do not operate electrical generators indoors (this includes the garage) as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use them outside in a well-ventilated area, far away and downwind from your home.
If you use a fireplace, wood stove or portable kerosene heater to stay warm, be sure to adequately ventilate to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide build up in your home.