Subzero temperatures and wind chills this week can present a danger to health and property, said local experts.
Western and central North Dakota, including Stutsman County, is under a wind chill advisory until noon Wednesday. Extreme wind chills can cause frostbite to exposed skin, according to the National Weather Service.
Sara Zink, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department of Jamestown Regional Medical Center, said cold weather injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia are not all that common. More often people will fall down while trying to get into a vehicle and the cold weather injury follows if no one notices that someone cannot get up and out of the weather until it’s too late, she said.
“If you have someone in your life who is elderly, injured or disabled, check on them when the weather is this cold,” Zink said.
The emergency room had five orthopedic injuries, such as fractures from slips, trips and falls in the past week, she said. These injuries are more common in winter along with cold weather exertion triggering a heart attack, she said.
“Minutes matter when it comes to a heart attack,” Zink said. “So, even if you’re not sure, seek medical attention.”
Ben Maulding, chief of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department, said the use of auxiliary heaters at home or work increases with extreme cold. He said the heaters are a fire hazard if not used according to the directions.
" If you have someone in your life who is elderly, injured or disabled, check on them when the weather is this cold.
SARA ZINK, registered nurse, Jamestown Regional Medical Center Emergency Department
Bill Carow, owner of K & D Towing Service in Jamestown, said the cold snap has brought more calls for battery jumps and semis with gelled fuel and frozen air lines. Using No. 1 winter diesel fuel is important for extreme cold, he said.
This is weather to keep cars and trucks plugged in outside or parked inside a garage, Carow said. Fuel tanks should be full and it is advisable to use isopropyl gas line antifreeze, he said.
Darcy Herman, owner of First Choice Home Inspections in Jamestown, said gas meters should be kept visible to detect leaks if the lines crack in the cold. Air vents need to be clear and open in homes, he said.
“Keep the vents clear so that nothing builds up such as sewer gas,” he said. “Keep an eye on the furnace if it has not been serviced in a while.”
Susan Keller, the North Dakota state veterinarian, said livestock handle the cold weather well if they have a good core and some protection from the wind such as a ravine or shelter belt. An open barn allows livestock to seek convection heat in the sunshine, she said. An enclosed barn can create a health issue if cattle sweat and then go outside, she said.
A veterinary nutritionist can ensure that feed and hay supplements are giving the cattle a good core with enough hair and a fat layer to help them survive, she said.