Dangerously cold temperatures on the way

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Frost on a window shows a taste of what New Yorkers are in store for this weekend. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

ALBANY — Temperatures are expected to dip to well below freezing Friday night and state officials are warning New Yorkers to take precautions.

The Capital District and other regions of the state are predicted to see temperatures well below freezing with wind chills that could drop to as low as -30 degrees in some areas, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.

“Forecasts are calling for another round of extremely cold temperatures throughout New York over the next few days,” Hochul said. “These conditions can be very dangerous if not taken seriously, so now is time to prepare. Be sure to limit time spent outdoors, know where to take shelter and as always, check on friends and family, if possible, to ensure their safety.”

Temperatures are expected to drop throughout the day Friday through Saturday morning, with wind chills dropping to well below zero in many areas.

The weather will present an increased risk for hypothermia and frostbite, the governor warned. Carbon monoxide poisoning from alternative heating sources like portable space heaters and fuel-burning appliances is also a risk, she said.

Communities in Western New York and the North Country are expected to see some of the most dangerous temperatures and wind chills, but the Capital District will also see extremely cold weather setting in.

“I want New Yorkers to be prepared as extreme cold temperatures can cause frostbite to exposed skin in minutes, so please limit time spent outdoors and know where to take shelter if needed,” said Acting Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray.

Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills are on the way this weekend. Contributed photo

Depending on income, some homeowners and renters are eligible for financial help to pay for heating costs through the Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, Hochul said. The program can provide up to $751 in assistance depending on household income, size and heating source. The threshold for eligibility saw a slight increase this year compared to last year, according to the governor’s office.

Some tips to avoid frostbite in frigid temperatures:

  • To avoid frostbite, stay inside during severe cold.
  • If you must go out, try to cover every part of your body, including ears, nose, toes and fingers. Mittens are better than gloves. Keep your skin dry and stay out of the wind when possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood’s volume, which helps prevent frostbite. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
  • If you suspect frostbite, don’t rub or massage cold body parts. Drink warm liquids, put on extra layers of clothes or blankets, and remove rings, watches and anything tight.
  • Once indoors, don’t walk on a frostbitten foot — you could cause more damage. Get in a warm (not hot) bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm (not hot) towel.
  • Don’t get near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle or hair dryer. You could burn yourself before feeling returns.
  • Frostbitten skin will become red and swollen and feel like it’s on fire. You may develop blisters — don’t break them, it could cause scarring.
  • If your skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb, even under the surface, go to a hospital immediately.

Also try to avoid hypothermia, which is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and poses an especially high risk to children and the elderly, according to the governor’s office. Symptoms include inability to concentrate, poor coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion and/or uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering. Call for medical assistance.

Homeowners should also try to prevent frozen water pipes in their home. Let cold and hot water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall, open cabinet doors to allow more heat to access pipes under a sink or appliance and make sure heat is on and set no lower than 55 degrees if you are away from home.

If pipes do freeze, know how to shut off the water to minimize damage if the pipes burst. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.

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