As sub-zero temperatures continue across the state of Maine, the Maine Emergency Management Agency urges Mainers to use extreme caution to avoid hypothermia, frostbite, or even death.
The National Weather Service reports that very cold air will continue across the region through the weekend with most locations unlikely to get above the freezing mark for the foreseeable future.
The Maine Emergency Management Agency offers the following tips to help Mainers stay safe during the dangerously cold weather:
To prevent hypothermia:
• Dress in layers.
• Wear a warm hat – 30 percent of heat loss is through the head.
• Wear a scarf and gloves.
• Infants should be in a room in which the temperature is 61-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Drink plenty of fluids and warm/hot drinks.
• Eat regular balanced meals to give one energy – good nutrition is important.
• Keep active when it’s cold, but not to the point where one is sweating.
• Keep dry and change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
• Cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, since all three cause heat loss.
• Try to keep one room in the house warm.
• Ask one’s doctor if one is on any medications that affect the ability to maintain a steady body temperature (such as neuroleptic medications and sedative hypnotics).
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
• Decreased consciousness, sleepiness, confusion, and/or disorientation
• Shivering, pale or blue skin, numbness, poor coordination, slurred speech
• In severe hypothermia, shivering decreases or goes away, and the person becomes unconscious and has very shallow breaths.
Winter driving tips:
If planning to travel, be sure to watch the weather reports and plan accordingly.
• Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area such as a garage, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Make sure tires are properly inflated and in good condition.
• Check windshield wiper fluid.
• Ensure the vehicle is clear of all ice and snow.
• Never mix radial tires with other types of tires.
• Keep gas tank at least half full to avoid the gas line freezing up or running out of gas and becoming stranded.
• Bring a fully charged cellphone, and program roadside assistance numbers.
• If stranded in a vehicle, stay with the vehicle and tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or use other distress signal.
• Run the engine and heater just long enough to remove chill to conserve gas.
Update the emergency kits in vehicles with the items below and be sure to let someone know when and where you will be traveling and when you expect to arrive at your destination.
• A shovel
• Windshield scraper and small broom
• Battery-powered radio
• Extra batteries
• Snack food
• Extra hats, socks, and mittens
• First aid kit with pocket knife
• Necessary medications
• Tow chain or rope
• Road salt and sand
• Booster cables
• Emergency flares
• Fluorescent distress flag
For additional preparedness, shelter, and safety information, go to maineprepares.com, or find the Maine Emergency Management Agency on Facebook or Twitter. Shelter information is also available by calling 2-1-1 or contacting one’s local town office, or fire or police department.