Thursday, December 22, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Thursday, December 22, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Extreme Cold To Hit Much Of US, Triggering Health, Safety Warnings

“Wild drops in temperature,” Mashable reports, can be expected as a bomb cyclone pushes polar air down through the center of the country over the coming days. Outlets cover safety tips, an upcoming state of emergency in Georgia prompted by the weather, and how homeless people are affected.

Extreme Polar Cold Is About To Pummel The U.S. Over The Holidays

The National Weather Service expects that giant swathes of the nation will experience freezing or dangerous conditions over the coming week, with some places seeing their coldest temperatures in decades. Overall, cold polar air will drop south into the Central U.S. on Wednesday, Dec. 21 and continue driving into the Eastern U.S. on Friday and Saturday. What’s more, a major blizzard will slam the Midwest between Dec. 21-25. Expect wild drops in temperature. For example, the NWS predicts the high temperature in Denver on Wednesday will be 46 degrees Fahrenheit. That will drop to around minus 1 F on Thursday. Meanwhile, temperatures in the New York City area will be in the 40s and 50s Friday morning, but will plummet to around 20 degrees or colder later that day. In some places, wind chill temperatures (the air temperature as it would feel blown on skin) are just bonkers: In Wyoming on Wednesday night through Thursday many temperatures will be well below minus 50 F. (Kaufman, 12/21)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Kemp To Declare State Of Emergency Ahead Of Dangerously Cold Weather

Remember that scene in “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” where he’s wandering alone through a righteously windy storm? The Atlanta area and much of north Georgia will be a bit like that this weekend (minus the snow, probably). Overnight Thursday and perhaps all the way until Monday, wind chill temperatures are likely to approach zero or head into the negatives. (Estep, 12/21)

Unhoused people are urged to find shelter —

The Guardian:
US Shelters See Influx Of Homeless Seeking Help Amid ‘Life-Threatening’ Winter

Buffalo uses an emergency weather safety plan, Code Blue, to provide warm food, shelter, transportation, and medical care to the city’s homeless. The program’s coordinator, Jean Bennett, said this weekend qualifies as an extreme weather event, one of a few the city sees every winter. The city will send a Code Blue van around to locate unsheltered people, pick them up, and bring them inside. “If they don’t want to leave whatever environment they are in,” Bennett said, “we will call the police. They aren’t making a good decision. This weather can be fatal, and they can pass away quickly. During extreme weather events, we don’t let them make that choice.” (Ryan, 12/22)

The Texas Tribune and The New York Times:
Winter Storm, Increase In Migrants Pressure Cities Throughout Texas

With freezing temperatures expected across much of the state Thursday and Friday, Texas cities are turning their attention to their unhoused communities — the people most at risk from the single-digit temperatures. The impending freeze is not expected to bring conditions as severe as the 2021 winter storm, and the state power grid’s governing body said this week it expects the grid to stay online. But with temperatures in many parts of the state plummeting into single digits, unsheltered people will be especially vulnerable. (Tompkins and Salhotra, 12/22)

Tips for staying healthy and safe in freezing temperatures —

Winter Safety Checklist: Stay Safe And Warm With This Guide

When staying indoors during cold temperatures or a winter storm, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips: Make sure any infants younger than 1 year old are not sleeping in cold rooms and have adequate warm clothing, such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets or sleep sacks. Remove any pillows or other soft bedding from a baby’s crib, since they pose the risk of smothering or sudden infant death syndrome. If you have friends or neighbors older than 65, check on them frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated. Leave water taps slightly open to prevent freezing pipes. Eat well-balanced meals to stay warm. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, because they can cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. (Howard, 12/21)

Important Safety Reminders For Emergency Winter Travel 

The National Weather Service stated that, between Thursday and Saturday, travel should be restricted to emergencies only as traveling will be “difficult to impossible at times.” People can purchase a pre-made emergency kit or you can make one themselves. An emergency kit could include things like gloves, cat litter, a blanket, a flashlight, jumper cables and a car phone charger. (Bricca, 12/21)
What Should You Do If Your Power Goes Out In Freezing Weather?

FEMA gave several tips on how to stay safe during a power outage: Wear layers of loose-fitting and lightweight clothes. These will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors or windows are open. This is because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not use a gas stovetop oven, camp stove or charcoal grill to heat your home. Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Refrigerators will keep food cold for around four hours, and a full freezer will keep the temperature for around 48 hours. Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment and electronics. Seek medical attention immediately if anyone in your family experiences the symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia. (Jarpe and Nexstar, 12/21)

The Colorado Sun:
What To Do If You Think You Have Frostbite

You’ve probably heard that the cells in your body are 70% water. But what happens when it gets so cold that all that water inside your cells starts turning into ice crystals? Hospitals across Colorado fear that more than a few people in the state are about to find out, as the coldest air to hit the Front Range in decades barged into the state overnight. (Ingold, 12/22)

In related news —

New York Daily News:
Study Finds Link Between Chilly Weather, Severity Of Colds

The nose really does know, as it turns out. New research has revealed a physical link between chilly weather and the severity of colds, and it’s right under — or, rather, inside — our noses. (Braine, 12/21)

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