Long Island, New York
Steven Bellone, County Executive
Extreme cold is a daily concern during the winter months for the northern United States. Areas further south may only experience occasional outbreaks of frigid temperatures each winter. Regardless of your location, the same cold-related risks exist! Make sure to know the warning signs associated with extreme cold and what actions to take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Frostbite happens when the body's survival mechanisms kick in during extremely cold weather. To protect the vital inner organs, the body cuts circulation to your extremities: feet, hands, nose, etc., which eventually freeze. To avoid frostbite, stay inside during severe cold, especially when the windchill is -50°F or below. If you must go out, try to cover every part of your body: ears, nose, toes and fingers, etc. Mittens are better than gloves. Keep your skin dry. Stay out of the wind when possible. Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood's volume, which helps prevent frostbite. Avoid caffeine, alchohol and cigarette. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, preventing warming of your extremities. Alcohol reduces shivering, which helps keep you warm. Cigarettes shut off the blood flow to your hands. Below are indicators of frostbite:
Get indoors as quickly as possible. Until you can get indoors:
When your body temperature sinks below 96°F, you have hypothermia. Prolonged exposure to temperatures as warm as 60°F, particularly in water, can trigger hypothermia if you aren't properly dressed.
Of the 28,000 people hypothermia kills yearly, most are seniors, according to the National Institute of Aging, but some are children and young adults. Everyone needs to be careful. Some medicines, problems with circulation, and certain illnesses may reduce your ability to resist hypothermia.
As you age, your body becomes less efficient at letting you know when you are too cold. In addition, older people tend not to shiver effectively, one of the ways the body warms itself up. Remember these tips to help prevent hypothermia:
If your temperature is 96°F or less, you feel cold and sluggish, or are having trouble thinking clearly, see your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. It's better to be overly cautious than to die of a disorder that doesn't have to be deadly.
If you are trying to help someone who may have hypothermia, first call an ambulance. Then lie close to the person and cover both of you with thick blankets. The hotter you get, the more warmth you can give the other person. Don't rub the person or handle him or her roughly.
Joseph F. Williams
John G. Jordan Sr.
Director of the Office of Emergency Management
PO BOX 127
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinates the county's response to natural or man made disasters. OEM personnel are responsible for the operations of the county's Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and work with local, state, and federal officials in shelter management, planning, resource management, and radiological response coordination.
Phone: (631) 852-4900
Fax: (631) 852-4922
© Suffolk County Government, 2015