Cold weather safety tips as next polar vortex approaches

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During cold temperatures expected starting Jan. 21 and projected for the next week, the Summit County Health Examiner and Red Cross of Northeast Ohio offers these tips to stay safe.

Check in on isolated, elderly or disabled family, friends or neighbors -- watch out for one another.

Bring pets inside.

Extreme temperatures can become life threatening or cause serious health problems including hypothermia and frostbite.

Symptoms of hypothermia include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately.

Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

For even short trips in the car, take along a blanket, flashlight, a first aid kit and extra warm cloths for you or others who may become stranded.

Keep your headlights clean and working and have plenty of windshield wiper fluid.

Remember your phone.

Drive safely. Be patient and do not tailgate - it takes longer to stop with reduced traction.

Avoid using cruise control in winter conditions as it may cause your car to hydroplane or skid trying to maintain speed. If the weather is too bad, find a safe spot and pull over.

If you need to go outside, minimize your time and avoid overexertion -- a major cause of death in the winter. Layer your clothing and keep all skin surfaces covered.

Stock up on emergency supplies in the home including extra food and water.

Use fireplace, wood stove or combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and keep a dry chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.

Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away -- things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.

Turn off space heaters before going to bed.

Use generators correctly -- never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

To avoid pipe freeze, keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night.

Download the American Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. See all Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps. Don't forget about ourPet First Aid App!

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