Weekly Feature

2014-01-09 / Editorial

Residents need to take extra precautions in winter

Bee Editorial

Dealing with the various challenges winter can bring is old hat for municipalities in Western New York.

In Lancaster and Depew, people such as Scott Kuhlmey, Village of Lancaster director of emergency management, and Ronald Rozler, disaster coordinator in the Town of Lancaster, have seen nearly everything in their many years of experience.

Residents should feel highly confident in the precautions being taken on their behalf, along with the soundness of the protocol utilized by emergency personnel.

With that being said, cold temperatures like those of the last several weeks can be extremely dangerous.

Just last week, a Genesee County woman was found dead in her backyard after police said she was outside in the freezing temperatures for more than an hour. Officials stress the importance of always having items such as extra clothes, medication and food in your car, or on your person, in the case of an emergency situation.

“When winter temperatures are this cold, and with a significant wind chill making it feel colder, staying warm and safe can become a challenge,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein.

According to the Erie County Department of Health, in severe cold weather and as wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly. They advise people to stay indoors, but if you need to make a trip outside, make it brief as possible and remember these tips:

• Outer layer of clothing should be tightly woven, preferably of wind resistant fabric, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind.

• Inner layers of clothing consisting of wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold in more body heat than cotton.

• Stay dry; wet clothing chills the body rapidly.

• Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

• Do not ignore shivering as it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors. Uncontrollable shivering can be an indicator of hypothermia, when the body’s core temperature drops below normal. Other symptoms include slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling and drowsiness.

• Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can cause permanent damage. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ears and nose.

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