Extremely cold temperatures are in the forecast for Genesee County this week and the Genesee County Health Department is offering up tips to stay safe and warm.

The GCHD says the first line of defense against cold weather injury is clothing. Dress in loose layers with the outermost layer being water resistant to keep the rest of the layers dry. Wear a hat because half of your body heat can be lost through your head. They also suggest covering your mouth and nose with a scarf because breathing cold air can harm lung tissue and aggravate asthma. The GCHD says that mittens that fit snugly around your wrists but loose around your fingers are the best form of hand protection and water resistant footwear and warm socks are a must to protect toes from frostbite.

When shoveling snow, the GCHD recommends taking frequent breaks and avoiding exertion. The body is already working harder to stay warm and cold weather puts extra strain on the heart. If any tightness in the chest is felt, stop immediately.

The GCHD reminds people if they become trapped in a winter storm while driving, to stay in their cars. Injuries and even death can be caused by leaving the shelter of the vehicle and then becoming disoriented in the blinding snow. Running the engine every few minutes to reheat the interior of the car is advised and tying a visible item such as a handkerchief to your car antenna will also help keep you visible to rescuers.