Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is issuing a public health advisory due to dangerously low temperatures forecasted by the National Weather Service (NWS), which can threaten health, safety and life.
The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Advisory from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning.
The NWS has issued a Wind Chill Warning from Wednesday evening through Friday morning.
These will include wind gusts in the 30-40 mph range in most places, up to 50 mph over the higher mountains, and spreading into the eastern foothills tonight.
An arctic cold front will blast across Colorado some time Wednesday or Wednesday night. Behind the front will be plummeting temperatures dropping below zero on the plains and will likely remain near or below zero through the day Thursday and into Friday morning.
Wednesday evening through Friday morning, there will be dangerously cold wind chills that may be as low as 55 below zero (-55°).
As a result:
With the dangerously cold wind chills, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in as little as 5 minutes.
Children, the elderly, people with disabilities, special medical needs and unhoused individuals are especially vulnerable during cold weather.
Things to avoid:
- Staying outside for extended periods of time
- Leaving animals outside, especially overnight
- Using stoves, barbeques, or ovens to heat your homes, which can create a significant risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
Things to do:
- Check on family members, friends and neighbors and help those you can
- Frequently check on those with limited mobility and limited access to heat, such as seniors or those who are ill
- Ensure you have enough medication through Friday
- Avoid any unnecessary travel during these times
- Pick up any needed products prior to Wednesday afternoon
- If travel is required, ensure you have a cold weather kit in your vehicle including blankets, snacks, water and first aid kit.
Health and safety risks, symptoms, and warning signs:
Hypothermia – people exposed to cold weather for prolonged periods of time can lose body heat and develop hypothermia. Symptoms vary depending on how long you are exposed to the temperatures.
- Early signs: Shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion and disorientation, sleepiness.
- Late signs: no shivering, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, loss of consciousness.
Frostbite – Even short exposure to these temperatures can create a risk of frostbite. Frostbite is a bodily injury caused by freezing, which results in loss of feeling and color in affected areas. The most common areas affected are the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Gently warm the person and seek immediate medical care if you believe someone is showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite.
Carbon monoxide poisoning: Take these actions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when heating your home:
- Only use approved heaters, such as electric or natural gas heaters or fireplaces
- Never use stoves, barbeques, or ovens to heat your room or home, as these appliances can produce a deadly gas known as carbon monoxide that can collect inside your home
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to reduce the risk of poisoning