Bitter Temperatures & Wind Chill Forecasted; Don't Be Caught "Out in the Cold" Unprepared!

Modified: December 13, 2016 4:06pm

Latest News

Archived Press Releases by Year:



From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date: December 13, 2016                              

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

Bitter Temperatures & Wind Chill Forecasted

Don’t be caught “out in the cold” & unprepared!

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Dig out the long underwear. You are going to need it. The coldest air since last winter is scheduled to arrive Wednesday evening through to this weekend, accompanied by significant snowfall in some areas. “After a mild autumn, this icy blast courtesy of the polar vortex may surprise a few people,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “When low temperatures are combined with a significant wind chill making cold air feel even more frigid, staying warm and safe is critical.”

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause serious and in some cases, life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, however, individuals of any age can be affected. Burstein added: “Everyone needs to be aware of the anticipated weather conditions and prepare and dress appropriately.”

The Erie County Department of Health’s website, contains important tips and links for residents on how to prepare for cold weather and winter storms. Click here: Winter Storms & Extreme Cold to directly access this information. 

Heat leaves your body more rapidly in severe cold, particularly as wind speed increases. If at all possible, try to stay indoors. Trips outside should be as brief as possible. Wear an outer layer of tightly woven clothing, preferably made out of wind resistant fabric, to reduce body-heat loss.

Inner layers of clothing consisting of wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold in more body heat than cotton. Try to stay dry; wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. 

Ensure that children are dressed appropriately for the conditions. Since children lose body heat more rapidly than adults, they need to be dressed warmly. Children may not effectively communicate their coldness to adults and should be monitored while outdoors in extreme cold.

Take similar precautions with your pets and do not leave them outdoors or in an unheated vehicle for any length of time.

Do not ignore shivering; it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors as soon as possible. Uncontrollable shivering can be an indicator of hypothermia, when the body’s core temperature drops below normal. Other hypothermia symptoms include slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling and drowsiness.

Another danger is frostbite, a severe reaction to cold exposure that can cause permanent damage.  Symptoms of frostbite include numbness and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ears and nose. If frostbite and/or hypothermia are suspected, slowly warm the victim and seek immediate medical attention

Cold weather also puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your healthcare provider’s advice about shoveling snow or performing any strenuous work in the cold.  If you have heavy outdoor chores to do, dress warmly and work slowly. Your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so take frequent breaks and be careful not to overdo it.

To help prepare for everything winter has to throw at Western New York, download the new ReadyErie app to your smartphone. This free app provides you with numerous helpful tips to be prepared for anytime of emergency, not only snowstorms and cold weather. In the “Need to Know” section of ReadyErie, there is a Winter Storms E-Guide with information on Winter Storm Basics, Preparing Your Home for Winter, Preparing for Outdoor Activities and What to Do During a Winter Storm. It is available in both iPhone and Android formats.

For more information

ReadyErie Information Sheet and Download Instructions

Erie County Department of Senior Services Emergency Preparedness Tips

New York State Department of Health Cold Weather Tips

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Extreme Cold Guide

SPCA Serving Erie County -- Winter Pet Safety Tips

American Red Cross – Top Ten Red Cross Cold Weather Safety Tips


#  #  #

Frequently Requested



Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations