With temperatures predicted to plunge to 10 to 15 below zero tonight, residents should take precautions.
A wind-chill warning from the National Weather Service in Cleveland is in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
A wind-chill warning is issued when winds combine with subfreezing temperatures to create conditions that are dangerous for exposed skin.
With winds expected to increase to 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph through Tuesday, wind-chill readings could go as low as 40 degrees below zero — cold enough to cause frostbite on exposed skin in 10 minutes or less, the weather service warned.
Officials are asking residents to check on neighbors who may need assistance during these unusually co1d temperatures and not to leave animals outside for long periods of time without adequate shelter, food and water.
The Ohio fire marshal reminds Ohioans that frigid winter temperatures lead to an increased risk of home fires.
State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers said the use of candles as heating sources and makeshift cooking methods can significantly increase fire risks. He recommended keeping kerosene heaters and space heaters at least 3 feet from combustible materials.
Flowers also warned that kitchen ovens should not be used to heat homes and generators or other fuel-powered machines should be used outside only. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm people indoors.
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home, inside and outside of sleeping areas, he said.
There were a number of delays and cancellations at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Sunday evening, according to the airport website. Information on the website advises travelers to contact their air carrier directly to check the status of a flight before leaving for the airport.
Extreme cold Q&A
What is “wind chill” temperature?
It is the temperature it “feels like” outside and is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, the body is cooled at a faster rate causing the skin temperature to drop. Wind chill does not impact inanimate objects such as car radiators and exposed water pipes, because these objects cannot cool below the actual air temperature.
What does this mean?
A wind-chill warning is issued when wind-chill temperatures are life-threatening. A wind-chill advisory is issued when wind-chill temperatures are potentially hazardous.
What is frostbite?
Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing body tissue. The most susceptible parts of the body are the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Medical attention is needed immediately for frostbite. The area should be re-warmed slowly to prevent injury.
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature — below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Medical attention is needed immediately. If it is not available, begin warming the body slowly.
What can people do to protect themselves?
The obvious: If possible, don’t go outdoors.
If you must go out, wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers provide added insulation.
Outer garments should be tightly woven, water-repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat, because 40 percent of body heat is lost from the head.
Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
Covering the mouth can protect lungs from extreme cold.
Try to stay dry and out of the wind.
Pets, like humans, can suffer from hypothermia, with symptoms including sluggishness, intense shivering, and shortness of breath. If it’s below 30 degrees, don’t have your pets outside more than 20 minutes.
Try to keep animals indoors, but if that’s not possible, a sturdy dog house that’s elevated off the ground and facing away from the wind may be sufficient. The smaller the house the better to keep in the heat, but large enough for dogs to be able to stand and turn around comfortably.
Hay, blankets, or towels will keep in heat and keep moisture out better than loose straw. Cats should stay inside, too, though you can buy cat houses.
Water dishes should be plastic instead of metal, and water should be refreshed throughout the day so it does not freeze. Give your pet more food than normal, because they burn more calories to maintain body heat.
Also, be aware of substances on the ground used to melt ice. Salt can irritate and get trapped in paws, while ice-melting agents and antifreeze can be toxic and ingested if an animal licks its feet.