Ready to hibernate? If you must be out in the weather, here are some tips.

First Posted: 1/2/2014

LIMA — Saturday and Sunday will provide balmy highs in the low 30s, but after that next week’s weather will include dangerously low temperatures and wind chills.

Average highs in January are in the low 30s, and average lows are in the high teens. However, wind chills as low as 25 to 35 below zero are in store for Monday through Tuesday night, coming after the potential for another round of accumulating snow this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The danger comes in the potential for frostbite and hypothermia, said Russ Decker, director of the Allen County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“We go off the National Weather Service wind chill chart, which says frostbite can occur in 15 minutes or less with a windchill of minus 18 or colder,” Decker said. “So, if you have an outside temperature of minus 5 with a 10 mph wind, which isn’t that much, you have a wind chill of minus 22. If you have kids waiting on a school bus outside, that sort of thing, there’s a real danger for frostbite, and people are at risk.”

When the temperatures dip that low, the best thing is stay home is possible, Decker said. If you are outside, dress in layers and cover as much of your body as possible, leaving very little exposed to the elements.

If you must travel, here’s a list of what to keep in your vehicle, in case you are stranded:

• Keep gas tank at least half full at all times

• Blankets

• Something bright to tie to the antenna or car to it can be spotted

• Flashlight

• Couple bottles of water.

If you are stranded in your vehicle, turn the vehicle on and run the heat for five to 10 minutes each hour, while you have a window slightly cracked. That will be enough to keep warm enough until help arrives, Decker said.

Extra care for animals

When temperatures drop this low, animals, both pets and wildlife, need extra care, especially steps taken to make sure animals have access to water that’s not frozen.

“This isn’t a time to leave a cat or dog out,” Decker said. “They’re susceptible to the same things we are.”

If a dog is outside most of the day, it needs to be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Horses in barns will be warm enough, Decker said, but still need ice in water buckets broken every few hours. Also bird baths need ice broken or water heated.

More snow coming?

In the meantime, there is considerable chatter about the possibility of more snow affecting the area Sunday. The latest forecast modeling from the Northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service shows several possibilities, from a few inches to a foot of new snow.

If a developing low pressure system moves closer to the region, it will bring a significant snowstorm with heavy snow and strong winds Sunday.

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