Police Warn Residents of the Dangers of Extreme Cold


The forecast for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4, called for extreme cold in Essex and the rest of Cape Ann, with wind chills below zero by mid-afternoon Friday, and wind chills as low as minus 20 degrees overnight into Saturday morning.

Essex Chief of Police Paul Francis and the Essex Police Department are warning local residents about the incoming arctic blast and sharing tips for staying safe amid extreme cold.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cold weather-induced illnesses such as frostbite can occur even in temperatures above 40°F if a person becomes chilled by rain or sweat, or is submerged in cold water.

The Essex Police Department shared the following tips from the CDC to help keep residents safe in cold weather situations, including this week's dangerous bout with freezing temperatures as well as any upcoming challenges:

When going outdoors, adults and children should wear:

  • A hat
  • Scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • Long sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
  • Water-resistant coat and boots

Residents are also reminded to layer their clothing strategically:

When choosing an inner layer, wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and do not absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton.

Wear a layer of clothing for insulation. An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down, or a fleece work best.

Select your outer layer carefully. The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.

Other Tips:

Try to stay dry while outdoors, as wet clothing chills the body quickly.

Excess sweating will cause your body to lose more heat, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while deicing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. Getting these on your skin will cause your body to lose a lot more heat.

Do not ignore shivering, as it’s an important first sign that your body is losing heat. Constant shivering is a sign that it is time to go inside.

The Essex Police Department would like to share the following winter safety tips with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA): 

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read and follow instructions on the generator label and in the owner’s manual. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.

Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors. Deaths have occurred when consumers burned charcoal or used camp stoves in enclosed spaces, which produced lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.

Stay away from downed wires, including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage.

Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.

Keep your emergency supplies well stocked in your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, gloves, hats, bottled water and nonperishable snacks. You may also want to include a snow shovel or add sand for traction. If you are told to stay off the roads, don’t venture out. Shelter in place at your home or business.

If it is safe, check on neighbors who may need assistance — older adults, people with disabilities and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.

Pet Owners

Pet owners are also reminded to take precautions during cold weather. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cold tolerance varies from pet to pet, and owners should be aware of their pet’s tolerance and adjust their activities accordingly. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time during below-freezing weather. Owners should check their dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. Following a walk, owners should also wipe down their pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove chemicals such as deicers or antifreeze.

It is also recommended that you check underneath your car, bang on the hood and honk the horn as a warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor or feral cats. For more tips regarding cold weather and animals, visit the AVMA.

While Essex does have a designated emergency shelter in town, there are no plans to open the shelter at this time. In the event of isolated incidents in which residents lose power for reasons unrelated to weather, as always the police and fire department will work collaboratively with the public health department to ensure the impacted residents are safe and warm until power is restored. 

Residents who are in need of assistance are reminded to call the Essex Police Department business line at 978-768-6200 or 978-768-6628. In the event of an emergency dial 911.