Local pros offer tips for frigid Chicago area weather

<p>| Sun-Times Media File</p>

| Sun-Times Media File

With forecasted high temperatures below zero for Monday and Tuesday, a local physician, veterinarian, and auto mechanic have made some suggestions for dealing with the extreme cold for people, dogs and vehicles.


Dr. Mark Moy of Oak Brook, who has worked as an emergency room physician at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital for more than 30 years, said using common sense is a good first step during times of extreme cold.

“The first thing is to stay inside if you don’t have to go out,” he said. “If you do have to go out it’s important to wear layers of loose fitting clothing and avoid prolonged contact with the cold and the wind. You don’t want do have exposed skin, either.”

Moy said wind could play a significant role in causing frostbite and frostnip. Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold; frostnip is a mild level of frostbite.

“Wearing a hat and earmuffs is important because people often don’t cover their heads and ears,” Moy said. “There is a lot of heat that escapes from your head. A scarf is also a good idea because the neck can be exposed.”

Moy also suggested not keeping shoes tied too tightly while out in the cold.

“You need to allow for more circulation, and keeping shoes too tight doesn’t let that happen,” he said.

For those who get frostbite or frostnip, gentle re-warming of the affected area is the best treatment, Moy said. Medical attention should be sought for more severe cases of frostbite.

“Tepid, warm water is good, but don’t listen to the old wives tale of rubbing snow or ice on it, and putting hot water on it can also burn you,” he said.

Moy also suggested not turning to alcoholic beverages when it comes to trying to keep warm when it’s very cold outside.

“Alcohol makes you feel warm, but it actually causes you to loose more body heat,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers an Extreme Cold handbook online at


Dr. Joe Gibbs of Village Veterinary Practice, which has offices in Western Springs and Clarendon Hills, said it’s very important to limit outside time for dogs during extremely cold weather.

“The cold can have similar effect on dogs as it does on people, in terms of frostbite,” Gibbs said. “Leaving your dog outside in the yard would be discouraged when it’s that cold.”

Short walks are OK, Gibbs said, but he suggested wiping a dog’s paws off with a moist rag after coming inside.

“The salt can get caught and be an irritant,” he said.


Making sure batteries are charged is a priority for avoiding vehicle problems in the extreme cold, said Phillip Harding of Bright Auto Repair in La Grange.

“The antifreeze needs to be good, but people would know by now if it wasn’t,” Harding said. “Keeping a car in a garage is a good idea if you can; anything to help keep it warmer helps.”

Harding said gas line antifreeze products aren’t necessary for most vehicles.

“If the gas is good, you don’t need it, and most of the gas these days is very good,” he said.

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