McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

National News

January 6, 2014

Experts warn of danger in cold

MINNEAPOLIS — There’s cold. And then there’s subzero, frostbite cold.

Here’s a look at some of the problems that arise when temperatures plummet and how to stay safe if you venture outdoors.



FROSTBITE

At temperatures of 15 to 30 below, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in.

Mittens are better than gloves, layers of dry clothing are best, and anyone who gets wet needs to get inside.

The bottom line is to avoid the cold if you can — or make sure all body parts are covered up and covered up well.



CAR BATTERIES

Most batteries less than three years old should be able to handle the cold. Older batteries and ones that are on the verge of going dead often can’t even be jump-started once they have been exposed for an extended time to temperatures below zero.



SPACE HEATERS

The U.S. Fire Administration says more than 50,000 residential fires annually are caused by heating, resulting in about 150 deaths. January is the peak month.

“I think it’s principally a desperation thing,” said William Siedhoff, director of Human Services for the city of St. Louis. “When you’re freezing cold, sometimes logic goes out the window and you seek out whatever means you can to stay warm.”



OUTDOOR EXERCISE

Stephen Regenold is a self-described fitness freak who has, he says, enjoyed winter his whole life. Now 36, Regenold runs 5 miles daily around Minneapolis’ Lake Calhoun, and bikes to work every day no matter the weather.

“I go crazy if I don’t get those endorphins and get those fitness fixes every day,” Regenold said.

Regenold’s other love is equipment, which he writes about as the “Gear Junkie.” Looking for pro tips for outdoor athletic survival? He’s got them.

Keeping the core warm is easy, he says; focus instead on extremities. He wears mittens, and on the coldest days swears by a versatile hat that can be worn to cover neck, head or both (He often wears two, plus a regular winter hat).

“To me it’s less about being tough, but more about embracing where I love and not letting the weather man and the media scare me from what I love to do,” Regenold said.

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