2013 is going out with an arctic blast as bitter cold temperatures set into the state. Merrill set a new record low today at -26. The old record was -24 set in 1976. The rest of the week will also be below normal for temperatures.
If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves. Frostbite can happen in less than 30 minutes of exposure to those conditions. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear tips and tip of the nose. Limit your time outside. If you see these signs, seek medical care immediately.
Hypothermia is also a danger in these conditions. That is when your body temperature drops below 95°F. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness. Again, limit your outdoor activity and seek medical care if you detect these symptoms.
If you are traveling make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Items to include in the kit are candles and matches, a flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, a cell phone adapter, a blanket and extra clothing.
While our pets might seem to have built-in, warm winter coats, they too are sensitive to the elements. It is recommended to bring them indoors during this bitter weather. Dogs and cats can get frost bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during bitter cold weather. Chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also irritate pets' paws - be sure to keep anti-freeze, salt and other poisons away from pets.