The Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management has released an awareness statement regarding an extended period of bitter cold:
Very cold temperatures are expected for the rest of this week, potentially lasting into the middle of next week. Daytime high temperatures will likely not rise above the teens from Thursday through the weekend. High temperatures in some interior locations may not rise above the single digits. Overnight low temperatures will drop to 0 to -10 degrees north of the Mass Pike and to the single digits over southeast Massachusetts. Wind chills during this period could be as low as 15 to 25 degrees below zero, particularly in western Massachusetts. The coldest periods are forecast to be Wednesday night into Thursday morning and Thursday night into Friday morning. Another bout of especially low wind chills is possible Saturday night into Sunday morning and Sunday night into Monday morning.
These frigid temperatures could impact your daily activities in the following ways:
- Potentially life-threatening wind chill temperatures
- Possible frostbite and hypothermia for those without proper protection from the cold. Frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes for unprotected skin.
- Possible increase in fires from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources or people trying to thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or similar devices
- Possible increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources
- Possible vehicle failure
- Possible water main breaks and pipe bursts
Here are some heating and housing tips to keep you safe during this extended chilling period:
- Store a multipurpose, dry chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.
- Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
- Ensure adequate ventilation by opening an interior door or slightly opening a window if you must use a kerosene heater.
- Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute.
- If your heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, don’t use it.
- Use fireplaces, wood stoves, and other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space. Make sure chimneys and flues are cleaned periodically.
- Do not place a space heater near things that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding.
- Open your faucets to a slight drip in colder rooms to prevent pipes from freezing.
- If you use a generator, be sure that is properly vented.
- Leave cabinet doors open under sinks if plumbing is on an outside wall.
- Check on senior citizen friends and family to ensure they are warm and safe!
Submitted by Jeffrey Stephens, Health Director, Westford Health Department. To submit your own content, email firstname.lastname@example.org.