Tips for keeping you and your pets safe while braving the frigid cold

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As we get later into the night, the temperatures will become dangerously cold.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in place throughout the Mid-South, with an arctic blast expected to bring temperatures into the single digits Thursday night.

Those temperatures are expected to continue into Friday.

All hands are on deck at the National Weather Service Memphis station.

Right now, they say the cold temperatures are really worrying the staff.

Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Ben Andrews at Christ Community Health offered tips about how long we can stay outside in these freezing temperatures.

He says any exposed skin can experience frostbite within minutes.

With the wind chill at -15 degrees, you can experience frostbite in 15 minutes.

With actual temps at 3 degrees, it can take about 30 minutes, but an even bigger concern is hypothermia.

“You talk about hypothermia, low body temperature, the individual doesn’t always recognize that or feel cold. They shiver but they start to get confused or poor judgment because low temperatures really affect the way you think,” said Dr. Andrews. “It affects your brain, and that’s why hypothermia is so dangerous, because you may not be able to recognize that, but somebody observing may be able to recognize it... so I would just encourage folks, if you’re going to be outside, make sure you’re with somebody.”

Dr. Andrews says Christ Community Health treats people in the homeless community, and he is particularly worried about them.

He says the key to all this is to make sure to stay bundled up.

It’s also important to remember that we’re not the only ones vulnerable to the frigid cold.

Your pet could be in danger if left outside for too long as well.

“The number one thing I would tell you is if you’re too cold to be outside, they’re too cold to be outside,” said Alexis Pugh, director of Memphis Animal Services (MAS). “Make those potty breaks brief, do not leave them outside or unattended... let them do your business and bring them back inside.”

Short-haired dogs such as pit bulls are extremely vulnerable to the cold weather.

“Right now, I am terrified for animals that live outdoors, even if they have dog houses and shelters. With the windshield being where it is I just don’t think it’s going to be sufficient,” Pugh said.

And based on projections at the National Weather Service, we could be dealing with these cold temps through the Christmas weekend.

The Hospitality Hub of Memphis’ Warming Center at 590 Washington Avenue will be open from 7 p.m. Thursday through 8 a.m. Monday for those in need of shelter.

Those in need of a ride to the warming center may contact the Hospitality Hub at 901-297-1680.

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