MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — If you absolutely need to go outside Friday then please read this guide on how to stay warm while in extreme temperatures. Last-minute Christmas shopping does not count as something you need to do. Coming back safe and sound is a much better gift to your loved ones than whatever you planned on getting.

But, if you have to leave your house in the event of lost power, a medical emergency or some other dangerous situation, this is how you can prepare yourself to stay as safe as possible in double-digit negative temperatures.

Keep these tips from the National Weather Service in mind:

  • Stay dry and remove wet layers to preserve body heat.
  • Check on the elderly and bring pets indoors.
  • Minimize travel.
  • Keep a survival kit in your vehicle if you must travel.
  • Don’t leave the house until your phone is adequately charged.
  • If your car gets stuck, stay in your vehicle and be visible to rescuers.

What to wear

When going out in extreme temperatures the keyword is layers. The National Weather Service recommends the following for extreme cold:

Winter dress infographic (National Weather Service)
  • Warm hat
  • 3+ layers for your upper body, one of which should be insulating
  • An outer layer such as a windbreaker to keep out wind
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Waterproof boots
  • 1-2 pairs of socks
  • Facial covering to protect your lungs from the frigid air

Think about how far are you going

Are you going down the road or somewhere a few miles away? This chart, also by the National Weather Service, can tell you how many minutes it may take to get frostbite.

Wind speeds are on the left-hand side, temperatures are at the top. Check your local weather and see where your conditions fall in the chart to see how long it can take for frostbite to set in.

Wind speeds are on the left-hand side and temperatures are at the top. Check your local weather and see how long you have before frostbite may start to set in. (National Weather Service)

Frostbite and hypothermia

According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can happen in minutes, especially on the extremities such as fingers, toes, nose and ears, but can affect any area of exposed skin.

The following are indicators of frostbite:

  • First degree: Ice crystals are forming on your skin.
  • Second degree: Skin begins to feel warm even though it is not yet defrosted.
  • Third degree: Skin turns red, pale or white.
  • Fourth degree: Pain lasts for more than a few hours and skin may develop dark blue or black. See a doctor immediately if these symptoms arise. Gangrene is a real threat.

If you have frostbite follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t rub or massage cold body parts.
  • Put your hands in your armpits.
  • Hold onto another person or animal.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets, etc.
  • Remove rings, watches and anything other tight jewelry or related items.
  • Do not walk on a frostbitten foot as it may cause further damage
  • Get in a warm, NOT HOT bath
Hypothermia graphic (National Weather Service)

If your body temperature is below 95° F, you are hypothermic and should seek medical attention immediately. If you cannot get immediate medical attention, here is what you should do:

  • Get the hypothermic individual indoors
  • remove any wet clothing
  • Warm the center of the person’s body with an electric blanket or skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Get the person proper medical attention as soon as possible.

Make sure to stick with the StormTracker 12 weather team throughout the winter for the latest weather updates on and the StormTracker 12 app, available on Android and Apple devices. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, or by subscribing to our Daily Forecast newsletter!