23 Aug 2014
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County Emergency Preparedness Chief Warns: Be Prepared, Extreme Cold Can Maim, Kill

The Morris County Office of Emergency Management offers guídelines for surviving winter weather than literally can kill you.

County Emergency Preparedness Chief Warns: Be Prepared, Extreme Cold Can Maim, Kill
Make no mistake, Monday night and Tuesday are going to be dangerously cold. The Morris County Office of Emergency Management has its eye on the bone-chilling temperatures heading this way. Its director, Capt. Jeffrey Paul, addressed the potential dangers in an essay in the interest of keeping residents safe and alive, because severe cold of the sort being predicted, within mere minutes, can cause pain, disfigurement, even death. If you are fortunate enough to have shelter, stay inside and warm. If not, read on for tips on how to survive the perilous temperatures.

 Based on information received from our weather partners, we anticipate that the temperatures will drop sharply as we head toward sunset. ln addition, as temperatures drop below freezing, standing water will freeze and potentially cause hazardous road conditions.

The low temperatures may remain with us for the remainder o fthe week. Morris County residents in need of shelter during this bitterly cold weather may contact the Morris County Office of Temporary Assistance at 973-829-8176 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. After those hours they may call 2-1-1 for assistance.

When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually expend your body's stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won't be able to react accordingly. Hypothermia is most likely
to occur at very cold temperatures, but may also occur at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water.

Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, most often the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbìte can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. How long it takes to get frostbite depends on how you dress, how cold the temperature is and how active you are in the cold. Wearing multiple layers, loose fitting Clothing,
mittens and face protection all help prevent frostbite.

As part of preparing for the impending cold, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management encourages following these guídelines to promote safe activities throughout this week:
  • Stay indoors during extreme  temperatures. If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertìon can bring on a heart attack, a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. lf symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • lf the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • lf you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55°F.

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