Extremely Cold Temperatures Are Here; Watch Out for Frostbite and Hypothermia

Posted at 6:50 a.m.

While the first “official” day of winter doesn’t start until next week — Dec. 21 with the winter solstice — the extremely cold winter temperatures are already here. Try and stay inside if you can, but if you must be out in the elements, remember to dress warmly.

dress warmly for winter weather

It’s going to be extremely cold today and for the next couple of days — in fact the coldest December temperatures in years. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts blustery temperatures with a high near 26° Fahrenheit today with a low tonight around 15°.

Friday it will be partly sunny with a high near 27°. Friday night’s forecast calls for a chance of snow before 1 a.m., then freezing rain and sleet likely, with a low around 25°. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Weather forecast for Dec. 14-16, 2016

Frostbite and Hypothermia

According to the weather service, frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, earlobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops below 95°. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take your temperature and if it is below 95°, seek medical attention immediately.

Hypothermia Prevention Program for the Homeless

To help our vulnerable neighbors survive the winter, the county provides overnight shelter with a “no turn-away” policy at all emergency homeless shelters during freezing weather. Through the coldest months of the winter, we also provide the Hypothermia Prevention Program, a countywide community network of 45 overnight shelters. Through this program last winter, our nonprofit and faith-based community partners served almost 1,000 men and women with a safe, warm place to sleep.

hypothermia prevention

If you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

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About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.