Local first responders have important advice for staying safe during cold snap

With 30 to 60 degree sub-zero wind-chills in the forecast next week, local health experts have advice to keep safe when cold weather becomes a health hazard.

Steve Hensley, an operations supervisor with Tri-State Ambulance, said that the best way to stay warm is simply by staying inside.

If you must go out in the extreme colds, Hensley said to make sure to wear lots of layers, including face protection to keep cold air from damaging your lungs.

If you need to travel, experts say to anticipate problems you may face on the road. They say to make sure your vehicle has at least half a gas tank, has been properly maintained and has a survival kit before the temperatures drop. That survival kit should include water, food, a flashlight, first aid supplies and a cell phone charger.

Hypothermia is a major concern in extremely cold temperatures.

“You can get some sort of mental status changes and forgetfulness, and your motor skills won’t work very well. It doesn’t take long: 20-30 minutes in these elements,” said Hensley.

If you experience signs of hypothermia, experts say to seek medical attention, remove any wet or cold clothing and heat your center with blankets and by drinking warm fluids.

They also say to look out for signs of frostbite in your extremities.

“What you’ll really want to do is look for that discoloration of the skin: kind of that white or grayish chalkiness of the skin or some yellowish discoloration that’ll create some waxy skin, especially over your fingers and your toes,” said Hensley.

If you experience these symptoms, experts say to seek medical attention. In the meantime, they say to use body heat or warm water to bring the circulation back to affected areas.

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