Stay warm as temperatures become frigid

If you haven’t yet experienced it, here’s your warning – it’s cold outside.

Temperatures were predicted to dip below zero overnight, reaching a low of negative-5 degrees, before holding steady in the single digits all day today.

So our advice is simple – don’t go outdoors unless absolutely necessary.

A wind chill warning for our area, as issued by the National Weather Service out of Pittsburgh, means the outside air could feel as if it’s 40-below zero. Winds are predicted between 15-25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. The warning is in effect through 10 a.m. Wednesday.

A wind chill warning means that very cold air and strong winds will produce dangerously low wind chill values, according to the NWS. The impacts of that, if precautions are not taken, could result in frost bite and hypothermia.

In addition, the NWS has issued a winter weather advisory. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch is predicted. The NWS says snow and a flash freeze will cause travel difficulties.

Obviously we urge caution while driving. Dangers, such as black ice, could be hiding under that thin coat of snow.

The cold temperatures also should remind us to watch out for each other, especially our older adults.

According to the Ohio Department of Aging, older adults have a harder time adjusting to extreme conditions than most. They lose body heat quickly and are more susceptible to hypothermia.

We suggest always checking in on older loved ones and neighbors, but especially during times such as these.

The Department of Aging offers the following suggestions:

* Do an indoor environmental risk assessment, checking on things such as the heating system, proper temperatures, and safety of additional heating devices.

* Do a health risk assessment, checking to see if immediate medical treatment is needed, if an oxygen supply (if needed) is available, and that all medications/medical supplies are on hand.

* Check food supplies, such as if they have non-perishable foods they can prepare without electricity and if access to clean drinking water is available

* Make sure they can get help if needed, asking if they have an immediate contact, and access to working phone (fully charged, if a cell).

Other suggestions, these from FirstEnergy, could aid in your own warmth as temperatures dip:

* Close all drapes, blinds and garage doors to retain heat and keep cold air out.

* Keep extra blankets or sleeping bags close by, if needed. Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.

* Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as deadly carbon monoxide gas could build up.

* Have plenty of bottled water on hand as well as non-perishable food.

* Avoid frozen pipes by opening faucets and maintaining a constant drip. Or wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers.

* Always use care when burning candles.

* Have all electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, tablets) fully charged.

* Keep a flashlight handy.

* Never use a portable generator inside the home or a closed garage in the event of a power outage.

Plus, remember those pets that are kept outdoors. The Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation offers these tips:

* Bring dogs and cats inside, if possible. A garage or basement, even unheated, is better than them facing the elements.

* If they must remain outdoors, use a storage container and line it with plenty of straw, not blankets. Check, constantly, on food bowls to keep them from freezing. Consider moving the shelter to a porch or against the house.

* Increase their food intake. Extra calories help them stay warm.

* Clean up any spilled antifreeze, windshield de-icer or any other winter driving products. All are lethal to dogs and cats.

* Also, don’t let your dog off its leash if you must take it for a walk. Dogs can lose their scent in snow and ice.

No matter the situation, it’s important to use common sense when dealing with these types of frigid temperatures. Be prepared. Keep warm. Don’t go outside.