A blast of arctic air packing the lowest temperatures in two decades descended on the Midwest on Monday and began a brutal plunge across most of the United States.
In most parts of the Midwest this week schools have been closed and residents have been warned to stay inside after reports of historically low temperatures threatening not just records but lives.
Today’s blog will provide some important tips/reminders for managing severely cold temperatures with cold weather work gear and for avoiding hypothermia at work, on the road, and in your home. Safety... pass it on!
Within just a few minutes exposed skin will begin to noticeably change. In just 7 to 10 minutes a serious condition known as frostbite can occur. First and foremost, dress appropriately. The elderly and small children are most at risk because they do not thermally regulate as well. Dress in layers because that traps air and heat. Loose layers not tight layers that can constrict blood vessels. Be sure to cover all exposed areas of the body especially the fingers and head.
This condition is a real concern in the Midwest and Northeast. This isn't just getting cold. Hypothermia is when your core body temperature drops. If your normal temperature is 98.6, we're talking about temperatures dropping to 95, 96 degrees. That's when you start to see organs slow down. People can have slurred speech, be confused, almost intoxicated or having a stroke. If that's a concern for someone you're with, move them to a warm area then to a hospital because sometimes it takes warm, intravenous fluids to warm up the whole body.
People about to get in their car and commute to work should consider these tips. Think like a Boy Scout or Girl Scout. Blankets, flashlights, water… even though it sounds counter intuitive. No alcohol because that dilates blood vessels. A bag of kitty litter you can throw under a tire if you get stuck. Plan like you're going camping except you aren't. If you plan ahead, you'll be fine. If you don't have to go out, don't go out.
In many states, officials are warning people to stay inside and off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Over the next couple of days, cities in the Midwest and along the east coast could see temperatures drop by 30 to 50 degrees with wind chills hitting 50 to 60 degrees below zero. If you must go out on the roads remember this arctic blast makes de-icing your car almost impossible.
The good news… by the end of this week most states will experience a considerable warm up with temperatures above freezing. Until then… STAY SAFE and MAKE SAFE CHOICES!