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It’s going to be cold today.

So be prepared.

After 2 inches of snow fell in Fremont during the weekend, temperatures are expected to dip to a few degrees below zero this morning with a high of only about 9 degrees.

North winds of about 5 to 10 miles per hour are still enough to create winds chill of -10 to -15 degrees below zero.

“If you’re outside, bundle up with clothes because you are at risk for frostbite,” said Cathy Zapotocny, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, Omaha-Valley. “You want to make sure that if you did get stranded, if you did have car trouble, that you would be able to have enough clothing on to withstand the temperatures.”

With a temperature around zero and a wind of about 10 miles per hour, frostbite can occur in only 30 minutes.

To prepare for cold weather, the weather service advises area residents to: check the forecast at weather.gov; make sure pets and livestock aren’t overly exposed to extreme cold; take precautions to ensure that water pipes don’t freeze; make sure your vehicle has at least a half tank of gas during extreme cold situations so you can stay warm if stranded.

The National Weather Service has tips for those who must go outside. Just a few include:

Dress in layers of clothing.

Cover exposed skin to reduce your risk of frostbite or hypothermia. Mittens are better than gloves. Keep your skin dry.

Try to seek shelter from the wind as much as possible while outside.

Change into dry clothing immediately if you are wet.

Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood’s volume, which helps prevent frostbite.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, preventing warming of your extremities. Alcohol reduces shivering, which helps keep you warm. Cigarettes shut off the blood flow to your hands.

Watch for frostbite. Frostbite can happen in minutes, especially on the extremities such as fingers, toes, nose and ears. If you suspect frostbite. Immediately move inside to a heated location.

Until you can get indoors, frostbite first aid includes:

Don’t rub or massage cold body parts.

Put your hands in your armpits.

Hold onto another person or animal.

Drink warm liquids.

Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets.

Remove rings, watches and anything other tight jewelry or related items.

Once indoors:

Don’t walk on a frostbitten foot. You could cause more damage.

Get in a warm, not hot, bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm, not hot, towel.

Don’t get near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a hair dryer. You may burn yourself before feeling returns.

Frostbitten skin will become red and swollen and feel like it’s on fire. You may develop blisters. Don’t break the blisters. It could cause scarring and infection.

If your skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb even under the surface, go to a hospital as soon as possible.

Area residents also must be aware of hypothermia, a health hazard that occurs when the body temperature is lowered too much. Get medical attention immediately.

More information is available at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/cold/

Until now, the area has had less cold weather, but that is changing.

“After a fairly snow-free fall and early part to winter, we are seeing a colder pattern and more winter-like weather,” Zapotocny said. “We’ve gotten by much of the end of the year with more fall-like weather and now it’s definitely turning more wintery.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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