Tips for handling dangerous winter weather

(Above) Perfect weather for Sun Dogs - If you are looking for a silver lining to the bitterly cold weather, turn your eyes to the sky.  Two large rainbow-colored shapes, called Sun Dogs, flanked the sun in North Iowa Monday afternoon.  The National Weather Service explains the atmospheric phenomenon appears when sunlight refracts off of ice crystals in the atmosphere.

To stay safe, the American Red Cross has steps people can take during this hazardous weather.

“Forecasters predict this will be Iowa’s coldest snap in more than 20 years. The extreme cold can be life-threatening as temperatures could dip between -10 and -30 degrees,” said Leslie Schaffer, executive director of the Iowa Red Cross Region. “We at the Red Cross want to make sure everyone knows how to prepare and safely ride out these winter conditions.”

Here are 10 ways to stay safe during this latest round of cold temperatures:

1.Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.

2.Know the signs of hypothermia - confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.

3.Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.

4.Bring the pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

5.Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.

6.Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home.

7.Space heaters should sit on a level, hard surface and anything flammable should be kept at least three feet away.

8.If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

9.Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

Learn how to treat cold weather related emergencies by downloading the free Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps. More information about winter safety is available on redcross.org.

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