This weekend Rhode Island will see an Arctic blast of cold weather, the coldest of the season. While we’d like to hibernate like bears, life must go on despite the freezing temperatures. Thankfully we have some great local organizations who offer tips on how to get us through this cold snap safely.
One of the biggest threats in this weather is frostbite. Being outside for just an hour in 20 degrees can lead to frostbite, which is damage to skin tissue due to exposure. Some people are even more prone to frostbite — poor circulation, or alcohol consumption, for instance, can increase the risk. Rhode Island Hospital’s web site has a page dedicated to what it is, and how to treat someone who has been, including a video by burn specialist, David Harrington, MD.
The cold weather should not be an excuse to avoid getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors. The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) suggests that you put on some extra layers and take part in activities like ice skating or snow shoeing. If you do plan on ice skating, be sure to check on the location using the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management web site. As of January 19, RIDEM announced that none of the water in state parks was ready for skating, so you may want to consider an official rink. Their site also offers an ice safety guide so you can check on your favorite location to see if it’s safe for skating. The site also notes that it takes at least five to seven days of temperatures in the low 20’s before ice may become safe.
HEALTH’s web site also offers additional tips for staying healthy and safe in the winter, like safe shoveling, checking on the elderly, how to properly heat your home, and cautions on another threat — carbon monoxide poisoning. Most importantly, HEALTH notes:
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat your house and do not use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside your house.
- If you need to use a generator, make sure it is properly installed and vented.
In these extreme temperatures, don’t forget about our pets. Our four-legged friends are also suspectible to some threats from the cold. Be sure to keep anti-freeze out of their reach, check their paws to make sure ice isn’t building up in their pads, and limit their time outside. You can find more pet safety tips here.
Following the tips available on these web sites will help keep you and your family safe and healthy, even though Jack Frost may be nipping at your nose.