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Press Release from
the National Weather Service
Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office
 

... Protection from the Cold ...

During the winter season, bitter cold air builds up in the Arctic and under the right conditions, drops south across the eastern U.S. This can result in an "Arctic Outbreak" over the eastern states including the Greater Washington area. Temperatures can drop into the single digits and teens with some sites seeing nighttime lows below zero when sufficient snow cover is present.

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Be aware of the WIND CHILL temperature ...

The wind chill temperature is the temperature that it feels like outside to people and animals. Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Therefore, the wind makes it feel much colder. If the temperature is 10F and the wind is blowing at 15 mph, the wind chill temperature is -18F. With a wind chill temperature of -20F, exposed skin can freeze in less than five minutes.

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What is FROSTBITE? ....

Frostbite when the body tissue freezes and damage to that tissue occurs. The most susceptible parts of the body are the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Medical attention is needed immediately for frostbite. The area should be SLOWLY rewarmed.

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What is HYPOTHERMIA? .....

Hypothermia is when the body temperature falls below 95 F. Determine this by taking ones temperature. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. Medical attention is needed immediately. If it is not available, begin warming the body SLOWLY. Warm the body core first, not the extremities. To warm the extremities first drives the cold blood to the heart and can cause the body temperature to drop further which may lead to heart failure. Get the person into dry clothing and wrap in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any HOT beverage or food. WARM broth and food is better.

About 20 % of cold related deaths occur in the home. Young children under the age of two and the elderly, those over 60 years of age, are most susceptible to hypothermia. Hypothermia can set in over a period of time. Keep the thermostat above 69F; wear warm clothing; eat food for warmth and drink plenty of water (or fluids other than alcohol) to keep hydrated.

NOTE: Alcohol will lower your body temperature.

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DRESS TO FIT THE SEASON ....

The best way to avoid hypothermia or frostbite is to stay warm and dry indoors. When you must go outside, dress appropriately. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you. Layers can be removed to avoid sweating and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Where a hat - half of your body heat can be loss from your head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry and out of the wind.

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AVOID OVEREXERTION ...

Your heart is already working overtime in the cold weather. The strain from the cold and the hard labor of shoveling heavy snow, walking through drifts or pushing a car may cause a heart attack. Sweating from overexertion could lead to chill and hypothermia.