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Greenwich warming centers open, residents urged to beware of cold

January 31, 2019

GREENWICH — Warming centers will be open throughout town as Greenwich experiences frigid temperatures.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to only hit a high of 13 degrees on Thursday with wind chills that will make it feel like it is below zero. The high for Thursday night will only be five degrees and the cold weather will continue through the weekend. Friday is expected to see highs of only 20 degrees and while it will go above freezing on Saturday and Sunday it will only be in the high 30’s at most with wind chill continuing to be an issue.

To that end, the town will have warming centers open around the community. The John Margenot Atrium at the Public Safety Complex, located off of Greenwich Avenue, will be open 24 hours for people to escape the cold and charge electronics if necessary. Additionally Greenwich Library as well as its branches in Byram and Cos Cob and the independent Perrot Memorial Library will be open during regular business hours if people need to escape the cold.

The Western Greenwich Civic Center and the Greenwich Senior Center are also listed as warming centers. The Senior Center is open Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. but will not be open during the weekend. The civic center is open 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. during the week, from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Additionally, the town’s Department of Health said residents should take precautions against hypothermia and frostbite and be careful while using alternative heating sources in their homes. People may be using fireplaces or space heaters to stay warm but that can increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The town’s health department said anyone can be affected by the cold, but infants, children, the elderly and those with medical conditions are particularly at risk.

Frostbite can affect the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes and with the freezing temperatures and wind chill expected in the next few days, the conditions may make people susceptible to it. The first signs of frostbite include redness or pain in any skin area, followed by a white, waxy or grayish-yellow look to the skin.

People who are experiencing frostbite may also experience numbness, tingling or stinging to a body part that has been exposed. If this happens, the person should be moved indoors immediately and immediate medical attention should be sought.

It is not advised that anyone seemingly suffering from frostbite rub or massage the affected parts of the body or use a heating pad, fireplace or radiator. Only body heat should be used.

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and it happens when a person’s body temperature falls before normal. The health department said early symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, fatigue, confusion, disorientation and loss of coordination. The late symptoms include puffiness of the face, blue skin, memory loss, slurred speech, slow pulse and breathing, extreme exhaustion and loss of consciousness.

When these symptoms are detected, 911 should be called immediately and anyone suffering from hypothermia must taken to a warm location, have any wet clothing removed and be wrapped in warm dry clothing until medical assistance arrives. If people are conscious they can be given a warm beverage, but should not be given alcohol.

A warm non-alcoholic beverage can be given to a person who is conscious. Call 911 for medical assistance immediately.

For those who are going outdoors, they are advised to wear loose clothing with hat, gloves, a scarf and insulated shoes. But the town suggests that outdoor exposure, including for exercise, be limited during frigid weather, particularly for infants, children, the elderly and those with medical conditions. Pets should also be not be exposed for long periods to the cold.

When it comes to home heating, people need to be aware of carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas which can be fatal. To avoid it, people must never use portable generators or gasoline-powered equipment in their homes or garages and should follow proper instructions for use. Gas or charcoal grills should also never be used inside a home or garage.

People should also purchase a carbon monoxide detector for their homes and make sure the home’s inlets and outlets are free of snow to allow for the gas to escape if it does occur. People should also avoid heating up their cars inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and the loss of consciousness. If it is detected, everyone, including pets, should be taken out of the house, and 911 should be called.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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