Stay smart in low temps, snow and ice

Margarita Cambest, 505-5439/@ritacambest
  • Hypothermia can cause shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness in adults and bright red, cold skin and very low energy in babies.
  • Frostbite can lead to a white or grayish-yellow area of skin, numbness or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.

Bitterly cold temperatures are expected to move across the region this week, and the state Department of Health is warning Pennsylvanians to be prepared.

"We want to warn folks to get inside and be inside this weekend," said Dr. Loren Robinson, the department's deputy secretary for health promotion and disease prevention.

Snow and ice are expected to lead to slippery highways and travel delays across the northeast this weekend. Single-digit wind chills and lows in the teens are expected in York County through Sunday, with the worst of the winter weather — up to 2 inches of snow — hitting between Friday and Saturday nights

Alan Graser of All Season Lawn & Landscaping, dumps a truck load of snow, taken from East King Street, at Johnson Controls in York, Pa. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“Every winter the cold weather comes, but we get very concerned when temperatures drop below freezing for the first time," Robinson said. 

The danger, she said, includes hypothermia and frostbite. Robinson said people should know the signs of the two most common cold-related problems, including slurred speech or shivering in adults with hypothermia and a white or gray tinge or numbness to skin affected by frostbite.

To protect from the cold, the department is asking Pennsylvanians to take extra steps over the next few days.

Snow falls in York City Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Robinson said the most vulnerable populations to cold weather are children, who might not want to limit their time outdoors; babies, who cannot regulate their temperatures; and the homeless.

“Babies under the age of 1 need to be in a warmer when they sleep, but it’s really not safe for an infant to sleep in a cold room. Their bodies just aren’t able to keep them warm enough," Robinson said.

Robinson said staying indoors as much as possible is key for everyone, but that's not always possible. She advised that if you do have to go outside, remember to keep trips brief and dress warmly in layers.

The department is  encouraging the homeless to get to shelters or seek temporary housing with friends, family or acquaintances while temperatures remain below freezing.

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“With the wind chill there will be several parts of the commonwealth that are dangerously cold,” she said. “There’s less time you can be outside without being seriously affected.”

A list of emergency shelters can be found here.