Planning, common sense needed in extreme cold temps

You knew it was coming, a spate of brutally-cold days that has everyone talking about memorable Arctic blasts of the past while vowing to not complain next summer when the brutally-hot temperatures set in.

With the National Weather Service predicting continued frigid conditions for the rest of the week, the Michigan State Police, not unreasonably, we believe, are advising that people use additional precautions in dealing with the bitter cold.

“These arctic blasts can create hazardous situations,” Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD, said in a press release. “Residents are encouraged to monitor local weather reports and follow the appropriate steps to stay safe during these extremely cold and potentially life-threatening temperatures.”

According to an MSP press release, those steps include:

– Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, wear protective gear, such as hats, mittens, gloves, scarf and a warm coat.

– Avoid overexertion when shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. Take breaks frequently.

– Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.

– Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion.

– Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body more rapidly and could lead to severe hypothermia.

– Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia.

– Weatherproof doors and windows to trap heat inside your home.

– Check heating units. Poorly operating or damaged heating units can release carbon monoxide gas. Test carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation and battery life.

– Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.

– Watch pets closely and keep them indoors when possible. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.

– Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Put warm clothing, such as gloves, blankets and hats, in your kit in case you become stranded.

When it comes to blistering cold temperatures and wind chills, be smart. Think and plan ahead and above all, use common sense to be and remain safe.