Bone chilling

Old Man Winter isn’t done yet. Bone-chilling winds caused whiteouts across the local area Thursday afternoon and are expected to continue until this morning.

With a winter storm warning in effect through this morning, state Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency Thursday. In regard to the storm that is impacting the Northeast, he urged people to “seriously consider staying in their homes.”

According to the National Weather Service in Buffalo, Dunkirk will be under snowfall again until this afternoon; receiving up to 7 inches in some areas.

Meteorologist Jim Mitchell said all of western New York received general light snowfall and it is not lake effect.

“The roads will remain snow covered and slick,” he said. “Drifting snow will cause poor visibility.”

Mitchell said a wind chill advisory would be in effect until this afternoon.

“Wind chill is expected to drop down to 20 below zero (Thursday) night,” he said.

Fredonia Department of Public Works Superintendent Jack Boland said everyone was out in force Thursday to plow the streets.

“Everything is going as planned,” he said. “All the plows are working.”

Boland said it has been a non-stop response.

“It would be nice to get a break so everyone can catch their breath,” he said.

Dunkirk Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino said plows have been non-stop all of Thursday.

“The biggest challenge is the extreme wind and cold,” he said. “We have been plugging away trying to get the snow cleared.”

Gugino said he strongly advises people to stay inside and not go out.

“Do not travel unless it is an emergency,” he said. “People could be driving on clear roads and due to the strong wind, it could cause snow drifts to blow into the road and cut off visibility.”

The Erie County Department of Health reminds everyone to take appropriate precautions during this week’s extremely cold temperatures and to stay indoors if you can; if not then dress in layers.

“When winter temperatures are this cold and with a significant wind chill making it feel colder, staying warm and safe can become a challenge” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Individuals of any age can be affected, but infants and the elderly are particularly at risk. To keep yourself and your family safe, prevent cold weather-related health problems by being aware of the weather conditions and planning and dressing appropriately.”

In severe cold weather and as wind speeds increase, heat can leave your body more rapidly. If at all possible, try to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible and remember these tips to protect your health and safety.

The outer layer of your clothing should be tightly woven, preferably of wind resistant fabric, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind.

Inner layers of clothing consisting of wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold in more body heat than cotton.

Stay dry; wet clothing chills the body rapidly.

Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

Do not ignore shivering as it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors. Uncontrollable shivering can be an indicator of hypothermia, when the body’s core temperature drops below normal. Other symptoms include slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling and drowsiness.

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can cause permanent damage. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ears and nose.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, slowly warm the victim and seek immediate medical attention.

Don’t forget to take similar precautions with your pets and do not leave them outdoors or in an unheated vehicle for any length of time.

Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing any strenuous work in the cold. If you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly.

Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so be careful not to overdo it.

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