Firefighters and paramedics discuss how they stay safe in this cold

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - While most of us plan to stay indoors during this extreme cold, firefighters and paramedics have to venture out during emergencies.

There are many ways they stay safe in this arctic air.

Before firefighters or paramedics head out they, just like us, make sure to dress with several layers. And if a fire does happen, water freezes almost instantly and turns everything into ice.

Capt. Garrett Delaney says it adds a layer of insulation, but firefighters do take turns warming up and staying out of the cold.

As for freezing fire hydrants, you don't need to worry; the water is not actually in the hydrant. It's below the ground. The water shut off is underneath, so it doesn't freeze. But, what you should pay attention to is whether or not your hydrant is easily accessible.

"If they are buried and we have to dig them out that takes valuable time," Capt. Delaney said. "So, we ask the residents to dig out your hydrants, know they are clear. If they have a hydrant on their property or even if there is one close by, maybe there's a neighbor or someone who is elderly, and they can't dig it out to help those people."

Another thing people should be aware of is how quickly frostbite or hypothermia sets in and if someone is out in the cold too long, you should make sure they are taken care of.

"First get them out of the cold weather, bring them in, well in our case bring them into a warm ambulance," Mitchell Witt, Paramedics Plus patient care EMS, said. "The ambulance is running all the time it's always on. We have a sleeping back on the cot. SO, we get them on there cover them up, many blankets. Same at your house, if they have any wet clothing on be sure to get that off because that can only make you colder."

If you do decide to head out in the cold make sure to dress appropriately.