With life-threatening Arctic blast, Dauphin County Commissioners remind older residents that emergency help is available

HARRISBURG, PA (January 30, 2019)With life-threatening cold weather forecasted from Wednesday through Friday, the Dauphin County Commissioners are asking residents to check on their older neighbors and want seniors to know that emergency assistance is available.

“With temperatures expected to drop into the teens and single digits, it’s important that we all look out for each other,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversees the Dauphin County Area Agency on Aging (AAA). “Our agency is available to provide emergency help to seniors, from assisting with heating repairs and to temporary relocation.”

The main number, 717-780-6130, is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the National Weather Service, frigid temperatures will start Wednesday, with a high of 20 and nighttime low going to zero. The extreme cold continues with highs of 13 on Thursday and 23 on Friday and lows of 5 and 12 degrees, respectively.

“Young children and seniors are more susceptible hyperthermia in cold weather,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “Those with medical conditions may also be at increased risk and we ask everyone to limit their outside exposure during this time.’’

The commissioners said county AAA caseworkers are checking with clients, but that it’s important for friends, family and neighbors also to keep an eye out.

“Many of our older residents live alone, which is why a quick call or visit to make sure they are OK is so important,’’ Commissioner Mike Pries said. “A little effort can save a life.’’

The county’s 24-hour emergency Crisis Intervention will also be available to anyone who is suffering a mental health crisis or is struggling with substance abuse and needs immediate assistance or counseling.  To reach Crisis Intervention, call 717-232-7511 or 1-888-596-4447.

Tips on dealing with the extreme cold:

  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.

Source: American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather)