The following information was provided by the Braintree Emergency Management Agency in an email early Wednesday morning:
An arctic air mass will be moving into New England tonight, bringing with it the coldest weather so far this winter. Daytime highs through Friday are expected to be in the high teens to low 20s across Massachusetts, dropping to the low single digits or even below zero overnight.
These temperatures, combined with blustery winds, will result in dangerously cold wind chills over the next two days, especially across higher terrain such as the Berkshires, Monadnocks, and Worcester Hills. Wind chill temperatures could range as low as -16 to -24 degrees.
Cold weather of this magnitude and duration can pose safety concerns for the general public, including but not limited to:
- Hypothermia and frostbite
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Frozen water pipes
- Water main breaks
- Dead car batteries
Extreme Cold Weather Safety Tips for the General Public:
· Continue to be aware of extreme weather conditions by monitoring media reports.
· Be sure to have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, blankets, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a manual can opener. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
· Minimize outside activities, especially for elders, young children and pets.
· Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
· Be aware of the potential for frostbite to outer extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and nose. Frostbite can lead to body tissue damage, and has symptoms such as a loss of feeling in and a pale appearance of the body part. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
· Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If a person’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
· Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel and emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity.
· If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.
· When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take necessary safety precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and ensure everyone knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
· Be a good neighbor. Check in on elders, relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety.
· To help prevent pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter and/or into any pipe that has been known to freeze in the past. This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze. Locate your central water shut off valve and learn how to shut off your water should a pipe burst.
· If pipes freeze, remove insulation and completely open all faucets. Pour hot water over the frozen pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. When used with caution, blowing hot air from a hand-held hair dryer onto the frozen pipe also works well.
· Be sure to properly winterize your car. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit in the trunk, which can include blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, an empty can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshield scraper, shovel, sand, a towrope and jumper cables
The Office of Braintree Emergency Management Agency
Robert F. James - Director
1 John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial Drive
Braintree, Ma. 02184