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Bitter cold is closing in on Boston. Here’s how to stay safe.

A man appears to be walking through a cloud, as steam rises from a manhole on St. James Avenue. Frigid temperatures are descending on the Boston area Friday and the deep freeze will last all day Saturday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The weather around Boston is about to do something extremely rare: Temperatures will feel as low as 30 degrees below zero.

The arctic air sweeping into the region on Friday and Saturday could bring on the coldest snap Boston has experienced in years. And after a mild January, it’s time to prepare.

Aside from staying inside during this frigid blast (which is the number one recommendation), here are a few ways to stay safe as the frigid temperatures roll in.

Dress warmly, in layers

Wear layers in extreme cold.Adobe/Ryan Huddle

If you have to go outside, make it quick. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one heavy layer, and make sure your outer layer is tightly woven and windproof, the city’s website recommends.


Wear wool. It keeps you warmer than cotton, especially when damp or wet.

The city also recommends putting mittens on over your gloves, and wearing a hat and scarf. People should cover their mouths when outdoors to protect the lungs from inhaling extremely cold air, which can cause bronchial irritation and cough. Make sure any exposed skin is covered.

Watch out for frostbite and hypothermia

In frigid weather, frostbite can happen in less than a minute. Wind also increases the risk.

Symptoms of frostbite include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can retain it. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.

If a person has hypothermia, raise their legs or place hot water bottles on their feet, the city’s website said. Do not massage the arms and legs. Call 911 in an emergency.

Prepare your home

The best way to brace for the cold? Stay indoors.Adobe/Ryan Huddle

To prevent frozen pipes, the city recommends keeping the heat at a normal level, and leaving the faucets open with a slight drip.


It’s also smart to monitor the furnace. The colder it is outside, the harder your furnace has to work, and debris buildup can impede airflow.

It is recommended to set your thermostat to one temperature, one that maybe two to four degrees above your normal setting, and leave it there. Closing garage doors and limiting the opening of exterior doors will also help keep the heat inside.

Take caution when using portable heating devices like space heaters and never leave them unattended.

Prepare your pets

Limit outdoor time for pets this weekend.Adobe/Ryan Huddle

Limit the outdoor time for your animals, and make sure any outdoor animals are brought inside. The National Weather service also recommends thoroughly wiping your pet’s legs and stomach when they come inside.

Animals can accidentally ingest salt, antifreeze, and other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking their paws. NWS recommends checking the paw pads, which can bleed from encrusted ice or sleet.

Prepare your car

Extreme temperatures can impact vehicles in many ways, including tire pressure, batteries, engine belts, and gas lines, according to WRTV. People should make sure their cars have at least a half tank of gas, maintain tire pressure, and throw in a few extra blankets, according to NWS.

If you are traveling, make sure to notify family members or friends of your whereabouts and timing.

Check on family

Remember to check in on neighbors and loved ones during extreme weather events.Adobe/Ryan Huddle

Check in on family members ahead of the cold weather, and individuals should inform each other if they plan to travel or leave the house.

The city also recommends checking in on older adults, people with disabilities, and people experiencing homelessness to ensure their safety.


“Make sure your elderly family and neighbors have enough heat and food,” the city’s website recommends. “Tell them to avoid shoveling, especially if they have a heart condition.”

Emergency shelters

The city's BCYF centers will be activated as warming centers on Friday and Saturday.Adobe/Ryan Huddle

The city declared a cold emergency from Friday through Sunday, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families will be activated as warming center on Friday and Saturday. A full list of locations and hours can be found here.

“If you see people experiencing homelessness out in the cold, please call 911,” the city’s website said. “If residents are aware of anyone staying in a vehicle or a place not intended for living during these extreme cold temperatures, they are encouraged to call 911 as well.”

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.