Forecasters are predicting continued frigid temperatures and cold wind chills across Ohio, with current temperatures well below average for this time of year, including single-digit lows and negative wind-chill readings.
So far locally, emergency medical responders have had no exposure-related injuries, according to Branden Jackman, public relations officer for the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District. But fires battled by local departments are particularly challenging in frigid temperatures because of water freezing, Jackman said, which was the case for a Waugh Road fire Wednesday night.
The cold weather will make New Year’s Eve a particularly frigid celebration, with temperatures Sunday expected to reach only into the teens, with a low Sunday night in single digits. A chance of snow was also in the forecast.
In a press release from the Ohio Department of Aging, Beverly Laubert, director, offered advice on helping the state’s older population during the freezing conditions.
“Older adults are at increased risk for complications from conditions including snow, ice, bitter cold and more. Factors like age-related changes and medication side effects can intensify the impact,” said Laubert. “Extremely cold temperatures equal severe weather, and we ask all Ohioans to check on older loved ones, neighbors and friends during this and other severe weather.”
People should also be aware that confusion, disorientation and irritability can be symptoms of conditions such as dehydration, stress and fatigue, said Laubert. If someone appears ill or is injured, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.
All Ohioans should have a winter preparedness plan that enables them to remain in place for three days if they become unable to leave their homes due to weather conditions, said Laubert. Each household should have an emergency kit that contains a battery operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, a loud whistle or bell, food that can be opened and prepared easily, water (one gallon per person per day), extra blankets and a first aid kit.
Preparation should also include a plan for safely keeping the temperature in the home comfortable. Use only space heaters that have been tested and certified to the latest safety standards, and do not leave a space heater unattended, said Laubert. Never use a kitchen stove or any other appliance not designed to heat your home for that purpose.
Pets are also at risk during extremely cold weather, and the American Veterinary Medical Association advises pet owners to take precautions.
“Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather,” according to the AVMA. “It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside.”
The organization adds, “Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.”
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