To the despair of many, bitter cold continues to painfully grip much of the United States. The bone-chilling winter weather has dumped massive amounts of snow, plummeted temperatures far below averages and has many people dreaming of warmer days. Long summer days spent on the beach seem too distant to provide any relief. Perhaps a trip to Florida, the Caribbean or southern California would heal the wounds caused by the bleak weather. For those of us not lucky enough to escape to warm weather, we change our desktop background images to palm trees providing shading over white sandy beaches and accept our situation.
Others, however, embrace the cold and travel to even colder areas. Say, for instance, the Buffalo region. With near constant lake-effect snow and Arctic temperatures blasting western New York, visitors should arrive prepared to face the extreme weather.
Earlier this month, I drove to western New York for a weekend meet up with high school friends. Little did we know when planned the trip that we’d face record-breaking low temperatures throughout our stay. Our President’s Day weekend getaway to Buffalo’s neighboring city Fredonia, New York, bared an actual temperature of negative 28 degrees at its lowest with an accompanying wind chill of almost minus 40 degrees. For this resident of Washington, D.C. and Red Cross employee, these dangerous temperatures provided a firsthand experience of extreme winter weather and the precautions needed to stay as safe and warm as possible.
Below are a few tips my group kept in mind to stay safe. You can also make use of these to make it through the last frigid weeks of winter as we patiently await warmer days:
- Wear multiple layers of clothing to stay warm. Gloves and winter hats help retain body heat.
- Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
- Know the signs of frost bite – numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
- Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Don’t forget to run water, even lightly, to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Download the free Red Cross First Aid App and learn how to treat cold weather related emergencies.
Find more extreme winter weather tips on redcross.org.
11 days until spring. 103 days until summer. But for now, stay safe and live vicariously through your Caribbean desktop background!