Columbus Residents Cope With Numbing Cold

Gahanna Lincoln High School's Joe Mizera wraps up two hours of hockey practice Monday
Gahanna Lincoln High School's Joe Mizera wraps up two hours of hockey practice Monday

The bitterly cold weather holding Columbus in its grip is causing residents to bundle up tighter but otherwise people are coping.

On Monday American Electric Power said it had enough energy to meet demand and they reported no power outages.

But the weather was sending shoppers to local stores to make sure they and their families had enough clothing to keep warm. Sheila Leffler manages one of the Volunteers of America thrift stores in Columbus.

“Yes we’ve had pretty good sales,” Leffler says. “But we were thinking it was income tax return.”

Keeping her spouse warm was definitely on the mind of Sue Furry who stopped at a local sporting goods store to get the latest high-tech cold weather gear.

“Well I’m looking for a hat for my husband who works outside in the cold,” Furry says. “And this keeps him as warm as he can possibly be.”

It was 12 degrees when Ohio State University graduate student Leo Glimcher set out Monday afternoon for his daily run. The temperature had dropped to 9 when he stopped for a brief chat; the blustery wind making the chill factor much colder. But not too cold for this native Muscovite who left Russia 12 years ago.

“It’s all right,” Glimcher says. “It’s cold for a couple of minutes but then you warm up.”

Glimcher is young, and he’s wearing thermals underneath and a fleece hat. John Drstvensek, a Riverside Hospital Emergency Room physician, says proper clothing is vital to protect the most vulnerable parts of the body against cold weather injuries such as frostbite.

“Your fingers, your toes, your nose and your ears; those have the least amount of blood flow and can be damaged by the cold if they’re out for any length of time,” Drstvensek says. “After ten or 15 minutes they could have early symptoms of frost bite.”

Members of the Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team, including Joe Mizera, were out practicing for several hours at Blendon Woods Metro Park before they’d finally had enough of the cold.

“You’ve just got to bundle up,” Mizera says. “It’s not really fashion out here, you just try to stay warm but once you get moving, I’m sweating right now.”

Riverside’s Dr. Drstvensek says it’s more important to keep the elderly shielded against such extreme winter temperatures.

“Many times because they have heart disease and narrowing of the arteries, they are on medications that drop their blood pressure and they can be at risk for these types of injuries,” he says.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if the temperature dips below zero or the wind chill falls below minus 20, anyone, elderly or not, should stay indoors. Highs in the Columbus area are forecast to rise only to the mid 20s by Saturday. Lows for the next several nights will be in the single digits.