The Star-Herald

Dangerously low temperatures prompt government warning

AUGUSTA, Maine — As sub-zero temperatures continue across the state, the Maine Emergency Management Administration (MEMA) urges Mainers to use extreme caution to avoid hypothermia or even death.

The National Weather Service reports that extremely cold air will continue across the region this weekend and through at least the middle of next week with most locations unlikely to get above the freezing mark for the foreseeable future. In Aroostook County, temperatures may drop to near -20 degrees Fahrenheit on New Year’s Day

MEMA 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% 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 you energy – good nutrition is important. Keep active when it’s cold, but not to the point where you’re 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 your doctor if you are on any medications that affect your 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 and Holiday Travel:

If you plan to travel over the holiday weekend, 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 and never mix radial tires with other types of tires. Keep your 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 cell phone and program roadside assistance numbers.

If you become stranded in your 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 your 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

Flashlight

Battery powered radio

Extra batteries

Water

Snack food

Matches

Extra hats, socks and mittens

First aid kit with pocket knife Necessary medications

Blanket(s)

Tow chain or rope

Road salt and sand

Booster cables

Emergency flares

Fluorescent distress flag

The staff at MEMA wishes everyone a safe and Happy New Year. For additional preparedness, shelter and safety information, please visit MainePrepares.com, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter. Shelter information is also available by calling 2-1-1 or contacting your local town office, fire or police department.

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