PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – No matter what it’s called, most people simply know it’s extremely cold outside and it could possibly be dangerous.
That has city and county officials doing everything they can to help people make it safely through the next couple of days.
While some may just chalk this up to being a condition of winter, emergency and public safety officials said the cold temperatures over the next 48 hours could be seriously dangerous with wind chills bringing the temperature to negative digits.
“Once it goes down to 48 below with wind chill, we’re talking five minutes of exposed skin to be able to get frostbite,” Dr. Karen Hacker of the Allegheny County Health Department said.
While it may not get quite that cold, the time frame to get frostbite and hypothermia gets narrower as the temperature drops. Allegheny County is keeping a close eye on the weather and has activated their emergency operations center in conjunction with the city to continue to monitor any weather-related emergencies.
“Basically looking at trends. If we start to see utility outages to try to assess how large the affected area is,” Alvin Henderson of the Department of Emergency Services said.
In the city, additional paramedics have been staffed to get to calls quicker. Police will also check known homeless camps and get them to safe warm place.
Officials also urge not to use unsafe heating sources inside as fires are even more difficult to fight in freezing temperatures.
The city says though they’ve been preparing since Friday for this weather.
“Most of our 2,200 public safety employees have never worked in this extreme cold. So, it’s new to them. We’ve taken great precautions to protect them and make sure our equipment and vehicles continue to function in this very extreme cold,” Safety Director Mike Huss said.
There are some phone numbers to keep in mind over the next 48 hours:
- 211 – Non-emergency line for Allegheny County
- 311 – Non-emergency line for the City of Pittsburgh
- 911 – For any and all emergencies
If you’re unsure if it’s an emergency, call 911 and they will properly direct your call.
Officials also suggest preparing a 72-hour emergency kit should you lose power.
If you’re cold, there are warming centers available to you. Click here for that complete list.