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Officials urge safety during extreme cold temperatures

November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois. According to state statistics, the cold weather has killed hundreds of people in the last decade.

But, officials said there are things you can do to make sure you’re ready for what’s coming.

Emergency officials and healthcare providers said the cold is no joke. Whether you’re inside, in the snow or driving, they said there are things you need to be aware of, so you stay safe this winter.

Colder temperatures are moving into the Tri-States.

In just a matter of time, it’s safe to assume you’ll see snow, ice and feel frigid temperatures.

Nurse Practitioner Kenton Snyder said there are a few things you can do to stay out of the emergency room.

“Right now is a good time for people to just really start taking stock and building a knowledge base of what they need to do moving into those colder months,” Snyder said.

He said hypothermia and frostbite are two big things you should watch out for.

“Hypothermia is basically anything below what your normal body temperature is,” Snyder said. “98.6 is a normal body temperature. But if you start dipping below 97, be aware of that.”

According to state officials, there were nearly 800 deaths in Illinois related to cold temperatures in just the past decade.

That’s more than deaths relating to tornadoes, floods and lightning combined, which is why emergency management officials said it’s important to be prepared.

“People need to really make sure that they prepare for the unexpected,” Adams County Emergency Management Director John Simon said. “Even though they may be going out for a quick trip, that they have hats, gloves, things that if you were out for a long time, you would want with you.”

Back at the hospital, Snyder said to watch out for icy stairs and sidewalks, as he sees a lot of patients for ice-related falls.

“As you’re walking out the front door, making sure if there is ice on those steps, that you’re taking precautions, using ice melt, using the stair wells to help step down,” Snyder said.

Signs of frostbite include redness of the skin and loss of feeling. If you have those symptoms, doctors said to use warm water on your body, not hot.

Don’t use direct heat from heating pads or fires. Do not rub or massage the skin or break blisters.

Simon said it’s also important to equip your vehicle with water, snacks and blankets in case you get stranded in the cold.

They also ask that you check on your neighbors, especially the elderly..

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