Important safety reminders for frigid temperatures

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A woman walks down the street bundled up against the cold. (Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –  With temperatures in the teens, it’s important to be prepared for the bitter cold.

The National Weather Service reports that 26 Americans died due to cold weather in 2017. Too much exposure to the cold can increase your chance for illness, but the ways you stay warm are also important.

Many people may have space heaters running, but experts say you need to do so safely.  Fire officials in Wayne Township estimate almost half of all home fires they respond to are caused by misuse of space heaters.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security suggests if you use alternative heating sources like space heaters, make sure you use the manufacturer’s instructions and turn it off before going to bed or leaving home.

Experts say extension cords can catch fire if plugged into a space heater because they aren’t designed to handle that much electricity.

“We’ve actually had fatalities here in the township where people put the space heater too close to the chair, too close to the blanket, too close to newspapers,” said Captain Mike Pruitt of the Wayne Township Fire Department.

Experts suggest that your space heater is at least three feet away from the wall or anything that can burn.

With the bitter cold temperatures, it can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. It’s important to know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

The Department of Homeland Security says symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite can vary based on age and include the following:

  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsy movements
  • Fatigue
  • Confused behavior
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Numbness
  • Swollen face

If you have to go outside, experts say to wear multiple layers because if not, you could really be putting yourself at risk.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security suggests wearing the following:

  • A hat
  • A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • Insulated and waterproof mittens
  • Several layers of loose-fitting, thermal wear or material that “wicks” moisture off the skin
  • A water-resistant or tightly woven coat
  • Two layers of socks with boots or shoes that are waterproof and have a flexible sole

For more safety tips from the Department of Homeland Security, click here.

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