BE PREPARED: How to stay safe amid historic cold - FOX 35 News Orlando

HISTORIC COLD: Essential safety tips

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Hopefully, many Minnesotans won't have to spend much time outdoors on Monday, when temperatures will drop to historic lows with wicked wind chills -- but anyone who has to must be prepared.

MORE: 5 ways to weather frigid cold

In order to stay safe from the sort of frigid conditions setting in overnight, it's imperative that the folks who must venture outside for work or other obligations are prepared in order to avoid finding themselves in a dangerous situation without a lot of time to react.

Some of the best advice is steeped in common sense:

- Don't go out alone if you can avoid it

- Having a companion in case something happens

- Check on neighbors, particularly the elderly

However, there are some people who don't have the luxury or resources to hunker down at home. The homeless in the Twin Cities are flocking to shelters for safety.

"When you're walking, it feels like your skin is going to peel off," 19-year-old Ivory, a homeless youth staying at YouthLink, told Fox 9 News. "That's how cold I get."

Ivory is one of several homeless teens that turns to the Minneapolis resource that offers help and support to youth like her, but it's not a shelter with bed. In light of the dangerous cold, however, Hennepin County officials asked YouthLink to serve as an emergency warming center providing 23 cots through Wednesday morning.

"That's another reason we were asked to open," Ann Kent, of YouthLink said. "There just aren't enough youth shelter beds right now."

Hennepin County officials say adult shelters that normally close during the day will also remain open, and the Salvation army's Harbor Light Center will accept anyone in need of shelter.

MORE: Minn. shelters by county

Yet, although those who have faced the brunt of the bitter cold in recent weeks are aware of the dangers of exposure, those who moved to Minnesota recently don't know much about the dangers of frostbite and hypothermia.

"The concern is, at 20 below, people -- within 5 minutes -- can start having injury to their skin if they have it exposed, particularly when it's combined with the wind chill," Dr. Bradly Gordon explained.

SYMPTOMS OF FROSTBITE

- A slightly painful, prickly or itching sensation

- Red, white, pale or grayish-yellow skin

- Hard or waxy-looking skin

- A cold or burning feeling

- Numbness

- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness

- Blistering, in severe cases

AVOID ALCOHOL

Dr. Gordon also recommends avoiding drinking alcohol when such severe cold sets in.

"They think of alcohol giving them that warm feeling, but the problem is: It changes your judgment and you start to make poor decisions," he said.

METRO TRANSIT BACKUP BUSES

Even though Gov. Mark Dayton canceled classes at all public schools statewide for Monday, many people still to get to work. For those worried about late or broken-down buses, Metro Transit officials say they have back-up plans for the cold.

"We have additional bus drivers and also buses available on standby in case there are disruptions," John Siqveland assured.

Additionally, Metro Transit's free app allows travelers to track the bus route in real time to avoid waiting in the elements any longer than is absolutely necessary.

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