Safety tips for extremely cold temperatures

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Low temperatures are in the forecast for Friday and the weekend.

Firefighters say if you have kids who will be waiting for the bus, limit their time outside if you can help it. The most important part is to make sure they have dressed appropriately.

The theme from first responders on days when it's cold is "predictable is preventable."

South Burlington Deputy Fire Chief Terry Francis says to make sure everyone is hydrated and fed. He says staying hydrated will help keep your blood flowing and, in return, help you stay warm.

They said there are a couple of things to look for in yourself and your kids while being outside.

One of those things is shivering which Chief Francis says if you are shivering that's your body's way of saying you're cold and it's trying to make energy.

If you've been shivering and stop while still being outside, that is a sign of hypothermia kicking in and you should find a place to warm up, immediately.

In extreme cases it only takes 15 minutes for hypothermia to set in.

Chief Francis also says it's important to stay hydrated.

"Keeping the kids hydrated and fed. A lot of people don't think about hydration as much, but having your body properly hydrated allows you to develop better energy, thins your blood out a little bit and gets to the places it needs to be and often times we forget about that," said Chief Francis.

For those who have to commute, he says to try to have at least half a tank of gas in your car, make sure you have a cellphone charger, blankets and water, among other basic supplies. Francis says be prepared to get stuck even if it's a short trip.

"I stopped and helped a woman the other day coming to work; her car slid off the road. She gets out in a very nice dress, no hat, no gloves, and flip-flops. So if we are talking about looking for an accident some common sense is really important here," he said.

On days when it’s really cold, his team is mostly responding to car crashes and cars sliding off the road. As a reminder, cellphone service is still spotty in parts of Vermont and you can't always rely on help being a phone call away.

And just because you have four-wheel drive, he says it doesn't mean you should forget you are driving in winter conditions.

"Frankly, we call four-wheel drive vehicles 'turtle cars' because when we have rollovers most of the time those cars are four-wheel drive. People know four-wheel drive means a car will move, it does not mean it will stop better," Francis said.

Outside is not the only thing you have to worry about. Here are some tips from Vermont Gas for your house during these extremely cold days:

-Keep gas meters free from snow and ice use a broom, not a shovel, to clear snow from your meter assembly and vents.

-They also say to keep exterior sidewall vents clear. If a vent becomes buried in snow or blocked otherwise, equipment may shut down or draw exhaust fumes into a home.

-Inspect furnaces once a year. All furnaces should be inspected and serviced at least once a year by a qualified professional.

-Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

-They also say you need to properly maintain and vent your appliances.

-Never use a gas stove to heat your home and do not use a generator indoors or near the home.

-Report all gas leaks. If you suspect a gas leak, leave the area, call 911 and contact your fuel supplier.