Extreme Cold Preparedness

Extreme cold may be considered any temperature below freezing (32 degrees F). During an extreme cold event, your body must work extra hard to regulate a normal body temperature and that could lead to illness or death, especially with vulnerable populations.


  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If you are outdoors, take short breaks from the cold conditions every 20 minutes at least.
  • Pay attention to weather reports, freezing conditions, and winter storm warnings.
  • Adjust your schedule (if able) to avoid being outside during the coldest part of the day.
  • Prepare and plan for what you would do in the event of a power outage.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power.
  • Purchase warm clothes that would be appropriate for layering.
  • Protect your outdoor pets by ensuring they have access to warmth.
  • Take precautions to protect your water pipes from freezing.
  • Fill up your vehicles gas tank and update your winter car survival kit.
  • During cold wind chills, wear many layers of clothing and encourage others to do the same.

Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening. Infants and elderly people are most susceptible. What constitutes extreme cold varies in different parts of the country. In the southern U. S., near freezing temperatures are considered extreme cold. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to citrus fruit crops and other vegetation. Pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. Here in the north, extreme cold means temperatures well below zero. 

Wind Chill is the term used to describe the rate of heat loss on the human body resulting from the combined effect of low temperature and wind. As winds increase, heat is carried away from the body at a faster rate, driving down both the skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill; however, cars, plants and other objects are not.

Use the wind chill chart below to check wind chill based on the wind and temperature.  The shaded areas show how long it will take for exposed skin to become frostbitten. The bottom chart will give you frostbite times based on the wind speed and temperature. 

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