AUGUSTA – Winter weather and cold temperatures can be hazardous—even for Mainers. As Maine faces extremely low temperatures, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding people to stay safe and healthy by being prepared for cold weather conditions.
Hypothermia and frostbite are the two main health concerns when it comes to extreme cold weather. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature is too low and in serious cases, may lead to death. Frostbite is caused by the freezing or near freezing of a part of the body resulting in numbness, tingling, or a change in color (paleness, blue, and whitish)—fingers, toes and the tip of the ears or nose are commonly effected areas.
Frostbite and hypothermia can both be avoided by remembering to wear layered clothing, as well as mittens, scarfs, hats, and proper footwear to reduce skin exposure. This is an important precaution to take, even if only outside briefly. If you suspect you might have hypothermia or frostbite, rewarm yourself slowly and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Here are some additional tips to stay safe during the cold weather:
- Avoid prolonged outdoor activities.
- In the event you become stranded in your car, make sure you are prepared by having blankets, food and water, and extra batteries.
- Prepare for power outages. If using an emergency generator, always operate it outdoors and away from any open window. Ensure you have working smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors.
- Do safety checks on your elderly neighbors and those that are ill.
- Don’t forget your pets. Do not leave your pet outside for extended periods of time.
- Individuals with medical or life support devices should have extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices. Notify your utility company, local fire or police department if you need assistance.
- For information on warming shelters near you, call or text 211.
People with qualifying incomes may be eligible to receive assistance to pay for the cost of heating oil and propane. A local Community Action Agency (CAA) administers fuel assistance programs in each county. For more information, please visit 211 Maine for a referral to a local CAA.
For more information on staying safe all winter long, please visit CDC: emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp