With temperatures predicted to drop so low that local school districts canceled today’s classes on Monday, Crawford County is definitely part of the massive cold wave sweeping the nation.
Warned that a dramatic temperature drop was in store, superintendents from Crawford Central, Conneaut and PENNCREST school districts announced shortly after 1 p.m. Monday that schools would be closed today and all extracurricular activities canceled. Titusville Area School District’s announcement followed soon after.
“It made no sense to wait until (this) morning to make a decision that’s inevitable,” PENNCREST Superintendent Connie Youngblood said Monday afternoon. “Stay in. Stay warm. Eat soup.”
It’s cold outside ...
Anyone ignoring Youngblood’s advice should bear in mind that spending time in cold temperatures may carry some very serious risks.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce it in response to cold temperatures. When prolonged exposure to cold uses up your stored energy, hypothermia — an abnormally low body temperature — is the result.
Warning signs in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. This means that a person may not realize what’s happening to them until it’s too late.
In infants, warning signs include bright red, cold skin and very low energy.
If body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, “the situation is an emergency — get medical attention immediately,” according to the CDC, which notes that a person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. The CDC cautions that emergency medical assistance is required.
Shivering, a warning sign for both hypothermia and frostbite, should not be ignored.
Frostbite, an injury caused by freezing, causes a loss of feeling and color in the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes and can accompany hypothermia.
The first sign of redness or pain in any skin area may be an indication that frostbite is beginning. Signs include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or numbness.
Rubbing or massaging the affected areas can make things even worse. Ditto for using heating pads, heat lamps, stoves, fireplaces or radiators near numb areas that can easily be burned.
According to the CDC, a person suffering from frostbite should get into a warm room a soon as possible and immerse the affected area in warm — not hot — water. The water should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body. The affected area can also be warmed using body heat.