How to stay safe as arctic air moves through the Inland Northwest

SPOKANE, Wash. — Sunlight can be deceiving when, in reality, it’s downright freezing.

“The most important thing is to just be aware that it’s going to be cold and to plan ahead,” said Kelli Hawkins, communications manager for the Spokane Regional Health District.

“A lot of these tips are things that when you hear them they may sound like common sense, but they’re not something that you typically think of,” said Nicole Bishop, communications specialist with SNAP.

That’s why it’s important to have all of your bases covered, starting with the inside of your home.

“There are a lot of areas in your home where you might not recognize that you have cold air leaking in,” said Bishop.

You can use plastic weather stripping to seal your window. Simply closing your blinds can also help. When it comes to your air conditioning unit, just throw a blanket over it – anything to help keep the cold air out.

“Your furnace filter should be changed once every six months or so. If you haven’t changed your filter since last winter, now is a great time to do that,” said Bishop.

Not only will this help keep your place warm, but it’ll also save you money on your energy bill.

If you want to spend some time outside, you’ll need to make sure as much of your body is covered as possible.

“There may be a benefit to wearing masks, so go ahead and keep the masks on all the way to your vehicle,” said Hawkins.

If you do need to be outside for an extended period of time, be aware that frostbite can happen when temperatures drop below 31 degrees.

“White or grayish-yellow skin, if the skin feels unusually firm or if there’s a numbness,” said Hawkins.

It’s important to remember that when temperatures are below freezing, hypothermia only takes up to 30 minutes to set in.

“If you have slurred speech or someone that you are working alongside does or if they become a little bit disoriented,” Hawkins said.

The cold is officially here. We hope these tips help you now and every other year.