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Tips for Safely Braving the Bitter Cold

Scott Olson, Getty Images

Another blast of nearly unbearably cold weather has arrived in South Jersey.  Today’s highs will barely hit the teens, and with the polar vortex air system, wind chills in many areas will drop below zero.  We urge you to stay indoors, but if you must go out, here are some precautions you can take.

On days like today, exposure to the elements for even a short period of time could lead to frostnip or frostbite.  The assistant state commissioner of health for Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories and Emergency Preparedness recommends dressing in layers.

“Dressing in layers is particularly important because it acts as an insulator for the body,” Christopher Rinn tells the TownSquare News Network.

  • A hat can retain body heat.
  • Use a scarf or knit mask to shield your face from wind burn.
  • Wear a water-resistant or wind-resistant coat and shoes.
  • Be careful to avoid falling on ice.
  • Make sure your home well prepared.
  • Check on elderly neighbors.
  • Don’t leave pets outdoors for more than a few, short minutes, and thoroughly wipe down their pads and paws.

Rinn recommends keeping extra food, blankets, flashlights and batteries available in the event of a sudden power outage, and make sure your cell phone is fully charged.  Also, if you take medication, make sure you’ve got plenty on hand.

Keep the same items in your car in the event that you get stuck, along with flares if you become disabled.

Recognizing frost bite (from WebMD.com):

For frostnip: 

  • White patches of skin that are numb

For frostbite (superficial or deep):

  • Skin that is white or grayish-yellow and feels hard, waxy, or numb, or is blistering or becoming darkened or black
  • Other symptoms include swelling, itching, burning, and deep pain during the rewarming/healing process.

Get medical attention immediately if you think you may have frostbite.

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