Tips for staying safe in extreme cold


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – With dangerously cold windchill temperatures expected for Friday into the weekend, the Erie County Department of Health is reminding WNY residents to keep safe from the cold.

“Heat leaves your body more rapidly in severe cold, particularly as wind speed increases. If at all possible, try to stay indoors,” the health department warns. Trips outside should be kept as brief as possible.

Here are some additional tips from ECDOH on staying safe in dangerously cold temperatures:

  • Wear an outer layer of tightly woven clothing, preferably made out of wind resistant fabric, to reduce body-heat loss.
  • Inner layers of clothing consisting of wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold in more body heat than cotton.
  • Try to stay dry as wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
  • Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
  • Since children lose body heat more rapidly than adults, they need to be dressed warmly. Children may not clearly communicate their coldness to adults and should be closely monitored while outdoors in extreme cold.
  • Take similar precautions with your pets and do not leave them outdoors or in an unheated vehicle for any length of time.


Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat, the ECDOH said. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors as soon as possible. Uncontrollable shivering can be an indicator of hypothermia, when the body’s core temperature drops below normal. Other hypothermia symptoms include speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling and drowsiness.

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

The ECDOH says that if frostbite and/or hypothermia are suspected, slowly warm the victim and seek immediate medical attention.

Cold weather also puts 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.

“Take frequent breaks and be careful not to overdo it; your body is already working hard just to stay warm,” the ECDOH warns. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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