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“Subfreezing temperatures put everyone at risk:” Racine County officials encourage folks to stay safe

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RACINE COUNTY (WITI) — The Racine County Office of Emergency Management would like to remind Racine County residents to take these frigid temperatures seriously and to avoid exposure to the cold.

“These subfreezing temperatures put everyone at risk. If you need to be outdoors, please take some extra precautions to stay safe during this time,” County Executive Peter Hansen said.

Low temperatures, coupled with even moderate wind, can make common outdoor activities life threatening, even for those appropriately dressed for the outdoors. Exposed areas such as the nose and ears can freeze within 30 seconds with a wind chill factor of negative 30 degrees.

Half of all cold related injuries and deaths occur among healthy, adequately clothed individuals involved in outdoors sports.  Especially hazardous are open areas such as lakes and fields, where winds can build.

Life-threatening hypothermia can develop rapidly, especially if a person is wet or damp. Shivering is the first sign of hypothermia. As hypothermia progresses, lack of coordination, slurred speech, confusion and drowsiness can occur.

During cold weather, you should:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold;
  • Dress in layers and keep dry. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs;
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance;
  • Know the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe;
  • Be aware of carbon monoxide dangers.  Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide;
  • Bring your pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water;
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full. Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight – and keep the fuel tank above half full;
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.

You can find more information and tips on being ready for winter weather and extreme cold temperatures at http://www.readyracineco.com/hazards.html.