BERKLEY — Chief Scott Fournier and Berkley Fire Rescue would like to provide cold weather and ice safety tips to residents as temperatures continue to drop.
According to the National Weather Service, Massachusetts residents should expect cold temperatures, strong wind gusts and below-zero wind chills Thursday night and into Friday morning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cold weather induced illnesses such as frostbite can occur even in temperatures above 40°F if a person becomes chilled by rain or sweat, or is submersed in cold water.
Berkley Fire Rescue wishes to share the following tips from the CDC to help keep residents safe in cold weather situations and conditions.
- When going outdoors, adults and children should wear:
- A hat
- Scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- Long sleeves that are snug at the wrist
- Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
- Water-resistant coat and boots
- Residents are also reminded to layer their clothing strategically:
- When choosing an inner layer, wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and do not absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton.
- Wear a layer of clothing for insulation. An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down, or a fleece work best.
- Select your outer later carefully. The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.
- Remember to try to stay dry while outdoors—wet clothing chills the body quickly.
- Remember that excess sweating will cause your body to lose more heat, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
- Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. Getting these materials on your skin will cause your body to lose a lot more heat.
- Do not ignore shivering—it’s an important first sign that your body is losing heat. Constant shivering is a sign that it is time to go inside.
For additional information regarding cold weather safety, please visit CDC.gov.
Space Heater Safety:
The Department of Fire Services offers the following safety tips when using space heaters:
- Keep space heaters 3 feet away from drapes, furniture or other things that can burn.
- Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Do not use an extension cord, even a heavy-duty one with a power rating at least as high as that of the heater itself.
- Turn off a space heater when you leave the room or when you go to bed. Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
- Put heaters on a level surface away from places where someone might bump into it and knock it over. Supervise children and pets near space heaters.
- Buy heaters that are tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc. (UL).
- Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
- Never use an unvented kerosene heater. It is illegal to sell or use them in Massachusetts.
General Ice and Cold Water Safety:
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs recommends measuring ice in multiple places before testing it with your weight. Ice that is two inches thick or less should be avoided completely. Four inches or more is considered safe for ice fishing or any other activity on foot. Five inches of ice is recommended for snowmobiles or ATVs. Eight to 12 inches is needed for a small car, while a foot to 15 inches is recommended for trucks.
Tips for remaining safe on the ice include:
- Never go onto the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you from shore or go for help if you fall through the ice.
- Go out onto the ice prepared. Make sure to have a cell phone with you in case of emergency, as well as rope or ice picks to help you or someone you’re with should someone fall in.
- Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt a rescue. Call 911 instead.
- New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As the ice ages, the bond between the crystals decays, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.
- Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing.
- Slush indicates that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.
- Ice formed over flowing water (rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs) is generally more dangerous and should be avoided.
- Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot and be only one inch thick 10 feet away.
What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice:
- Reach-Throw-Go: If someone falls through the ice, call 911. If you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.). If this does not work, go for help, but do not attempt to go out onto the ice to rescue them. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
- If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice. Once safe, find shelter and change out of your wet clothes. Seek medical assistance immediately.