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Extreme cold coming could cause frostbite, hypothermia

First comes the snow.
Then, the cold.
An Arctic front will move into the area Friday night, plunging temperatures below zero through Sunday. With wind chill factored in, it’s going to feel as cold as 25 degrees below zero and possibly worse.
The deep freeze begins at about midnight when it’ll be at about 10 degrees. From there, the mercury starts plunging. By Saturday morning, we’ll be at minus 2. The highest it will get Saturday is about 2 degrees. Then overnight into Valentine’s Day, it’s going to get even colder. At 4 a.m. Sunday, it will be minus 10 degrees. With wind chill, minus 25 degrees. Here's the National Weather Service's forecast for the temperature and wind chill between now and Sunday at 8 a.m.:

This extreme cold is dangerous.
According to the weather service, being outside in such conditions for 30 minutes can result in frostbite. Here's a chart that explains how wind chill is calculated and when frostbite is a danger:



The elderly and the very young are especially vulnerable to the cold, and the Erie County Health Department recommends they should remain inside until temperatures moderate.
The Health Department recommends that if you have been exposed to extreme cold and are experiencing the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
• Hypothermia – Abnormally low body temperature from prolonged exposure to cold
• Frostbite – Causes loss of feeling and color in affected areas of the body, often the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes
• Heart Disease – Those with heart conditions are at a greater risk during extreme cold, so be extra aware of your symptoms.
The extreme cold is also dangerous for pets.
Here are recommendations from the Erie County SPCA:
• Make sure outdoor animal shelters are suitable for the inclement weather. If not, animal welfare officers can rescue the pet thanks to New York State’s Shelter Law that went into effect in 2003.
• Keep a tight leash. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Pets can lose their scent on snow and ice. Pets may also panic during a snowstorm and run away.
• Never leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your pet could  freeze to death.
• Always dry your pet’s wet paws. Thoroughly wipe off your pets’ legs and stomach when they come in and out of the snow or ice. Check their sensitive foot pads, which may be bleeding from snow or ice encrusted in them. Your pets can also pick up salt and other chemicals on their feet. These chemicals could hurt your pet if it swallows them while licking its feet.
• Check cars for cats. During the winter, stray or neglected cats outdoors sometimes sleep under the hood of the car where it’s warm and comfortable.
• Keep visits outside short. Take your dog outside only for as long as it takes for him to relieve himself. Dogs, particularly small, short-haired breeds like Chihuahuas and terriers, suffer from the cold despite their seemingly warm fur coats.
• Keep them away from antifreeze. It’s poisonous to pets.
•Those who witness a situation that might constitute cruelty and/or violence toward animals in Erie County, including animals left outdoors with inappropriate shelter in yards, are encouraged to call the SPCA Serving Erie County at 875-7360. The after-hours number for animal cruelty or rescue emergencies is 712-0251.



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