Tips to stay safe during the cold weather

Posted at 8:52 AM, Jan 21, 2013
and last updated 2015-02-14 22:06:32-05

Local firefighters say emergency calls increase during the winter months, and especially when cold temperatures hit like this Saturday and Sunday.

The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting the time you're outdoors to prevent frostbite, which can occur in as little as 30 minutes in temperatures as cold as what we could see over the next 48 hours.

The National Weather Service has come up with an easy-to-use calculator tool to help you figure out what it really feels like outside. All you need to do is put in the current temperature at your location and wind speed.

Click the image for the calculator

If you have to be outside, the Mayo Clinic recommends dressing in several layers of loose, warm clothing with a hat or handband that fully covers your ears and wearing mittens rather than gloves.

Check out conditions where you live with WCPO's latest weather forecast

The clinic also says to wear socks that fit well, don't drink alcohol as it causes your body to lose heat faster, keep moving (but not to the point of exhaustion) and eat well-balanced meals with proper hydration. Early signs of frostbite are red or pale skin.

Watch the video player above for more on frostbite fret and staying safe

There are some folks in the Tri-State who work rain or shine, and in the very bitter cold as well. For those who make their living with jobs in the elements, they know the sub-zero wind chills cut straight to the bone.

With no choice but to bear the numbing cold, our neighbors take special precautions for those frigid work shifts. With their determination, we receive mail and packages, enjoy a clean community and keep our to-do lists checked off.

David Sullivan has been delivering mail for 17 years. His job doesn't stop, even in the coldest conditions, he told WCPO meteorologist Sherry Hughes.

So how does he do it?

"By the Grace of God," he said. "Lots of layers of clothes, hot soup and hot coffee."

"We get out and we work, when we get cold we get back in the truck and get warm and get out and work."

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Prepare your car for the extreme cold

First responders are also putting out a warning when it comes to keeping warm.

Safety should be a top concern when using space heaters. Firefighters say to keep space heaters away from windows, curtains, and any appliances. Don't put clothes, blankets, or anything else on top of them.

“If anything is too close, within two feet, it could actually start heating up the combustibles to where they start producing a gas, and that gas is what is flammable and that’s what’s going to burn," explained Colerain Township Fire Captain Darian Edwards.

"Over time, if something is next to it for hours at a time, it’s going to be more likely to catch fire."

Also, make sure your space heater has a "tip over switch" so it will shut itself down if it falls over.

RELATED: Winter energy saving tips from Duke Energy
Tips to protect your pipes from freezing

If you use a fireplace in your home, firefighters say to keep a close eye on the flames and any sparks or ashes that could bounce out of the fireplace and onto your floor.

“Some of the burning coals from the wood can actually pop and come out of the fireplaces if you don’t have the proper screening or doors, and that can easily start one of the chimney fires, living room fires," said Edwards.

Firefighters say carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a risk when the colder temperatures hit. They say to pull your vehicle out of your garage before you start the engine to warm the car up. The exhaust has a high concentration of carbon monoxide, which could drift into your home before you know it.

“It doesn’t matter if the garage door is open or closed, all that exhaust still gets into the home through the doorways or cracks," explained Edwards.

Also make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector inside your house.

“You’re not going to notice that little bit of exhaust, the smell, too much. But it’s the exhaust that does produce the carbon monoxide that is going to kill," said Edwards.

It's also recommended to keep extra blankets and flashlights in your vehicle in case of emergency.

When you're on the go, keep in mind that if your Smartphone is exposed to the cold, the battery will drain faster.

Whenever possible, keep your phone is charged so that you will have power when you need it. It is also handy to keep a car charger in the phone case for if your vehicle should get stuck in snow or on ice.

If your Smartphone has been exposed to the cold for a long time, you shouldn't use it right away. Instead, leave the phone to warm up to room temperature. If you boot your phone while it is cold, you could potentially damage the hard drive.

Whenever you are outside in cold temperatures, it is best to keep the phone on you. If you leave your phone inside of your car, the decreased temperature can cause damage to the sensitive components. If you have to keep your phone in the car, wrap it in a sweater or jacket.