Frigid temps bring risks

Staff Writer
With the temperatures making a sudden change from record highs to single-digit lows in a matter of days this time of year, a local safety official says it is imperative to be careful about being exposed to prolong cold temperatures.
Not only can the cold weather can cause hypothermia, but frostbite is something to be cautious about.
“I recommend, as a safety precaution, to go out in the cold with someone, so if you have some type of problem, you can call for help and get aid,” Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites said.
Krites is referring to situations or activities such as ice fishing, hunting and shoveling snow.
“Always take along a cell phone, and let someone know where you are going,” Krites said.
It is important for a person out in the cold temperatures for a long period of time checks in with someone periodically, Krites said.
Having a person monitor progress while shoveling snow is a good idea, not only to check up, but also to share the workload.
See COLD Page 10A
When shoveling snow, it is important to wear sturdy shoes with rugged soles to help prevent slips and falls, according to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA).
It is important to keep walkways around the home clear of snow and ice, and also important to never smoke while shoveling, as the tobacco smoke constricts blood vessels just as cold air does. OCSWA noted this combination could be dangerous.
Stopping and resting is ideal, if a person becomes short of breath or dizzy while doing the outdoor chore.
A sturdy, lightweight shovel to push snow out of the way is key, and when snow needs to be lifted, small scoops should be taken. A shovel full of dry snow can weigh approximately 4 pounds, while wet snow can weigh significantly more, according to OCSWA.
Warming up before shoveling by stretching arms and legs is a good idea, as warm muscles are less likely to be injured and work more efficiently, Krites said.
According to OCSWA, checking the forecast is important. as it may be best to stay indoors during very cold or very windy weather, like the last couple days.
While outside in cold temperatures, it is important to be aware of frostbite, and the symptoms.
Frostbite is the most common cold-related injury, and it is an injury to the body caused by freezing of skin tissue. Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color in the affected areas, and frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes, according to OCSWA.
Results of frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation.
People with reduced blood circulation, those who drink alcoholic beverages, the elderly and people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures are at an increased risk for frostbite.
At the first sign of redness or pain in any skin area, it is advised to get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin, as frostbite may be the beginning. Signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels firm or waxy and numbness.
A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
If one detects symptoms of frostbite it is important to seek medical care.
Taking preventative action is the best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. OCSAW notes by preparing a home and a car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, a person can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.