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Frigid Temperatures Expected Through Weekend
04:57PM / Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Arctic air that meteorologists have been promising for weeks finally arrives this evening and plans on staying the rest of the week.

The National Weather Service says average high temperatures will be in the teens with overnight lows dropping into the single digits and below zero. Winds gusts over 20 mph can result in will-chill readings ranging from 15 below to 40 below.

Residents are advised to button up and keep warm, and stay out indoors as much as possible.

Accuweather.com reports that a phenomenon known as sudden stratospheric warming occurred in the Arctic region during the first week of January. The stratosphere is located between 6 miles and 30 miles above the ground. Often when this occurs, it forces cold air to build in the lowest layer of the atmosphere then to drive southward.

The state's Emergency Management Agency offers some tips for combatting the cold:

Always have a well-stocked emergency supply kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food, a manual can opener and extra heavy blankets.

Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young. Also, consider your pets and bring them inside or make sure they have a warm place and access to water.

Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing, and hats and gloves. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that is frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.

Hypothermia can occur in extreme cases. The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If the person's temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.

Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity. Unvented kerosene heaters are illegal in Massachusetts. Call Mass211 or check with your local Emergency Management Office to find the locations of any Warming Centers that may be open in your community.

When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove, space heater or a generator, take the necessary safety precautions and keep a fire extinguisher handy.

If you lose heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.

Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety.

Wrap pipes to keep them from freezing; allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past. Know where the water shutoffs are in case of breaks and open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate.

If pipes freeze, open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

Make sure your car is properly winterized and keep the gas tank at least half full. Carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit in the trunk including blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshields scraper, shovel, sand, tow rope and jumper cables.

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