EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 4, 2014

Frigid weather prompts warnings

Experts: Bundle up and limit time outside during cold weather

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — Residents eager to get outside and clean up after the first nor’easter of 2014 were urged to pace themselves.

Bitter cold and biting wind made for a dangerous combination, one that continues today.

“Dress warmly and in layers if you have to be outside,” said Chris Adamski, bureau chief for the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control. “If you have to shovel, make sure you take some breaks, so you’re not in the bitter cold for so long.”

Temperatures were as low as 5 degrees below zero Thursday night into yesterday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures were in the single digits yesterday afternoon and were expected to dip below zero again last night.

“The worst of it is over, but it will still be very cold,” National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Pohl said. “The wind chill is what will really get you.”

The wind chill was expected to be well below zero last night.

“You have to dress correctly,” Pohl said. “Dress in layers and just try to stay warm.”

Adamski said it doesn’t take much to develop hypothermia.

“It really varies with individual and length of exposure,” she said. “Some may have higher risks than others. Individuals who are older, their body is more vulnerable. Their ability to regulate cold temperatures decreases with age. If you have an older neighbor, make sure to check on that person.”

Parents should also be wary of their kids playing outside.

“With any kind of bitter cold, a child shouldn’t have any exposed skin,” Adamski said. “With little kids and especially babies, their ability to regulate temperature is less than adult, so bundling up kids is extremely important.”

Also of concern is frostbite.

“Make sure to cover all exposed limbs,” Adamski said. “If you don’t have your gloves on, there may be tingling or itching in your hands. “

The American Red Cross of New Hampshire cautioned against pipes freezing.

“Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing,” they said in a prepared statement yesterday. “Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.”

Eugene Handel, a veterinarian with Handel with Care in Derry, said it was crucial to take proper care of dogs in the bitter cold.

“Smaller breeds of dogs get colder quicker,” he said. “Be extra attentive to them and dogs who have less fur.”

Outdoor cats should be watched as well.

“Many cats won’t go outside if there’s snow,” he said. “But if they do go outside, make sure you keep track of just how long they’re outside.”

Handel said there were several sensitive parts on pets’ bodies.

“Watch their ears, paws, tail and their belly,” he said. “Those are the parts where there are less fur.”

For humans, there are several signs that they have spent too much time in the cold.

“Shivering is something we’ll do when it gets cold,” Adamski said. “But confusion, drowsiness and shallow breathing are all red flags for moderate to severe hypothermia.”

Adamski said she has not seen any rise in hypothermia due to the cold temperatures.

“No significant increase yet, but we may see one if it persists for several days,” she said. “Hopefully this trend continues.”

Pohl said temperatures will climb into the 20s today and the 30s tomorrow. Rain is in the forecast for Monday, with temperatures in the 40s, before another cold front comes in and temperatures dip back into the teens.