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Bitter cold temperatures grip the area, experts offer tips to stay safe

Brutally cold temperatures and extreme wind chills make it dangerous to be outside for more than a few minutes in the greater Utica area.

Posted: Jan. 21, 2019 7:19 PM

UTICA, NY-- Brutally cold temperatures and extreme wind chills make it dangerous to be outside for more than a few minutes in the greater Utica area.

According WKTV Chief Meterologist, Bill Kardas, temperatures fell to -10 degrees with a wind chill of -31 degrees on Monday, making it the coldest temperatures in the area for the past several years. Much of the snow has been cleared on the roadways after a storm over the weekend, but the temperatures can still impact driving conditions.

"Some of the conditions that drivers are going to be facing right now is the blowing and drifting," said Jimmy Piccola, regional spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. "There are areas that are prone to blowing and drifting we know those areas so DOT will be out there monitoring those areas and making sure those conditions are best but we can make them."

Piccola said the state is also using a specific type of salt to better treat the roadways because of the cold temperatures.

"Based on the different conditions, if we feel that the regular rocksalt isn't doing the job they to a treated salt, which is magnesium chloride, a little bit more expensive," he said. "But again if we feel we need it that's another tool in the toolbox that these guys use to make the roads are safe as possible."

According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can set in within 15 minutes of being outside. But keeping warm indoors can present its own dangers.

"Try to avoid using space heaters as an accessory heat," said Carmen Bassone, captain of the Utica Fire Department. "I know it's very cold now and some older houses are drafty, but space heaters are dangerous. If you do use them make sure you don't run them off an extension cord, you don't overload the circuit, keep them away from combustibles, and pets. Try to make sure that if you have the type that if they do get knocked over, they will turn off before they can ignite something."

Bassone added that ovens should not be used to keep a house warm, because it will bring in carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous.

The Utica Zoo is taking extra precautions because of the temperatures to keep all of the animals safe.

"Most of our animals are inside today just for their own safety," said Mark Simon, marketing coordinator for the zoo." They're all given extra bedding, heat lamps for some of them. A lot of animals are also given an increase in their diet so they can beef up their their natural defenses like our sea lions for example they get extra fish. We go through a lot of different processes, luckily it's not this cold all the time, ... but on a day like today like I said most animals are inside."

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