Winter Safety Advised as Arctic Blast Approaches
February 6, 2019
Record snow fell on Sunday, Feb. 3 in Glasgow while continuing to fall into Monday morning bringing in a collective ten inches of snow as of Monday afternoon with snow expected to continue through Tuesday, as of press time. That record snowfall is likely going to be followed by an “arctic blast” starting Wednesday that will bring dangerously low temperatures expected to fall well below zero and be accompanied by severe windchills according to Patrick Gilchrist with the National Weather Service.
Gilchrist stressed winter safety with dangerous temperatures reiterating that frostbite and hypothermia are very real risks when negative temperatures are accompanied by high winds. “Windchill is so critical,” explained the meterologist, “-20 degrees with a 20 mile-per-hour wind could feel like -48 degrees. At that temp. exposed skin could frostbite.”
According to the Mayo Clinic exposed skin could frostbite in as little as 15 mins when the ambient temperature or windchill reaches -25 degrees. The time to frostbite would lessen with every descending degree after that. “It’s really all about limiting your exposure,” explained Gilchrist, listing off measures that could be taken to prevent exposure such as regularly coming in out of the cold to warm up, covering skin and only going outside when absolutely necessary.
“Do you really need to make that trip today,” asked Gilchrist rhetorically emphasizing that limiting travel and outdoor work is advisable to avoid exposure, frostbite and hypothermia.
The weather service and the Montana Department of Emergency Services recommend travelers take steps in the winter to mitigate risks which include traveling with appropriate clothing for the weather, bringing along a survival kit that contains fire starting materials, food for all the vehicle occupants, and signaling methods. In most survival situations, you should never leave your shelter or your vehicle.
It is also advisable to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia and how to treat victims. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit causing shivering followed by slurred speech and mumbling, slow and shallow breaths, a weak pulse, clumsiness, loss of energy and drowsiness, confusion and memory loss and followed by loss of consciousnesses.
Gilchirst also pointed out that often times someone suffering from hypothermia reaches a point where they believe they are actually hot or even burning up causing them to strip off their clothes despite the extreme cold. The only way to reverse hypothermia is to seek shelter and warm the person slowly to avoid inducing shock. The Mayo clinic warns that if you recognize hypothermia in someone you should call a doctor or 911 immediately.
For more information on winter survival visit https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather or pick up a DES Winter Survival Handbook from the Narional Weather Service Office in Glasgow.