Wareham hunkers down against extreme low temperatures

Dec 30, 2017

It’s what you’ll hear about on the news, in the post office, on your lunch break: the extreme cold snap in much of the northeast that is leaving Wareham residents reaching for their earmuffs and adjusting the thermostat.

Wareham temperatures have been getting down to single digits and negative temperatures, with the cold expected to last through next week. In Boston, temperatures reached their lowest point since 1924, hitting 12 degrees.

Staying safe in these extreme temperatures is crucial, said Onset Fire Department Chief Ray Goodwin. Goodwin said everyone should make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are fully functional as the weather stays cold. The batteries should be changed since heating systems are running full blast and there could be problems.

“During extreme weather, it is more likely that alarms are alarming for an actual CO event,” Goodwin said. During years of extreme cold in town, Goodwin said there have been numerous incidents of homes with high levels of carbon monoxide and that early intervention is key. All alarms should be treated as real and Goodwin advised calling the fire department right away with any concerns.

He said no one should go out on the ice at this point in the season.

“Don’t ever go out on saltwater ice, period,” Goodwin said, since the water moving under the ice usually doesn’t freeze well enough to hold much weight.

Freshwater ice has not been cold long enough to be fully frozen either, so Goodwin said people should just stay off the ice.

Daredevils are welcome to the annual Polar Bear Dive on Jan. 1 at the Onset Pier, but should plan to dry off and get warm clothes on quickly afterward, Goodwin said.

So far, there haven’t been hypothermic issues from prolonged exposure to the cold in town, he said. The biggest problems have been alarm-related calls and broken water pipes.

For those who do face issues with accessing heating oil or a warm place to stay, Nights of Hospitality has dates in town through March, providing bedding, dinner, breakfast and a warm atmosphere for anyone who needs it in Wareham churches.

Nights of Hospitality, now in its tenth year, just began for the season, and Director Pastor David Shaw said there have been nine guests in total so far. Typically, there are few guests during the holiday season since friends and families open their homes during this time of year. Click here to see the full schedule for Nights of Hospitality.

For four-legged friends, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has some advice to keep pets safe as temperatures stay below freezing. The agency advises not taking pets outdoors for lengthy periods of time, washing pets’ paws after a walk to remove salt and chemicals, using plastic food and water bowls rather than metal and not leaving a pet locked inside a car during very cold weather.