January 22, 2011
Safety urged with cold snap
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jaroslava Prihodova bundles up from the cold as she walks along Main Street in Cortland Friday. Temperatures barely reached 20 on Friday.
Bundling up in the chilly air is considered common sense, but health officials stress local residents should take it to heart, as the coldest weather of the winter season was predicted for this weekend.
Health officials from Cortland County and the state urge people to think safety first when traveling on the road or heading outdoors for other activities. That includes wearing layers of clothing, a hat or cap, and mittens or gloves, and covering mouths with scarves to protect lungs from the cold, the officials said.
ReBecca Canzano, supervising public health educator for the Cortland County Health Department, said the cold can bring a number of health problems like hypotherrmia and frostbite. If possible, people should stay indoors, she said of the expected cold snap.
Wind chill values tonight and Sunday evening were expected to reach 10 degrees below zero, and snow showers are also likely, according to the National Weather Service.
Single-digit temperatures are also predicted for next week.
Another common problem local health officials deal with this time of year is children being left in cars by their parents — something they should never do, Canzano said.
“It seems like common sense, but parents leave their children in the car to go to the store, pay for gas, or run into a friend’s house quickly,” Canzano said. “In this weather it takes minutes for frostbite to affect an adult, what’s it going to take for a child?”
If people do walk outdoors this weekend, they should try to go indoors every few minutes as a break from the cold, Canzano said.
Officials from New York State Electric and Gas also said customers should take needed steps to use energy wisely.
Thermostats should be set no higher than 70 degrees and at 58 degrees when people are away from the house for more than a few hours or in bed for the night, NYSEG officials said. But that might not be advisable for infants, frail, ill or elderly people who are in the home, NYSEG officials added.
Other cold weather safety tips include not using a natural gas or propane range to heat a home; never using a grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove indoors; and making sure electric stove tops and ovens are turned off when not in use.
The mixture of cold and snowfall can also pose hazards on the roads.
State emergency and highway officials said drivers should always slow down on slick or icy roads, increase following distance between cars, make sure to scan the road ahead for possible hazards and slow down before making a turn.
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