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W.Pa. residents take precautions against severe cold

Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - With only her eyes barely exposed, Satara Thomas of the Hill District walks along Grant Street, Downtown, on Tuesday morning, Jan. 22, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review</em></div>With only her eyes barely exposed, Satara Thomas of the Hill District walks along Grant Street, Downtown, on Tuesday morning, Jan. 22, 2013.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review - Crossing guard Margie Rarey of the South Side stops traffic so students and pedestrians can safely cross Warrendale Avenue at Allen Street in Allentown.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Crossing guard Margie Rarey of the South Side stops traffic so students and pedestrians can safely cross Warrendale Avenue at Allen Street in Allentown.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review - Dressed for the cold, Teresa Santone of Greensburg stands watch at the intersection of Park Street and Maple Avenue as Greensburg Salem Middle School lets out for the day on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review</em></div>Dressed for the cold, Teresa Santone of Greensburg stands watch at the intersection of Park Street and Maple Avenue as Greensburg Salem Middle School lets out for the day on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent - Twins Rose and Grace Tollar 8, are all bundled up as they wait for a bus in Charleroi with their mother, Nila Tollar. The family recently moved to Charleroi from Kissimmee, Fla., and were a little shocked by the weather.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jim Ference |  The Valley Independent</em></div>Twins Rose and Grace Tollar 8, are all bundled up as they wait for a bus in Charleroi with their mother, Nila Tollar. The family recently moved to Charleroi from Kissimmee, Fla., and were a little shocked by the weather.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg freshman Zhoubin Yang, 20, of Greenfield is bundled up in Panther colors as he walks on the campus on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>   Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review</em></div>University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg freshman Zhoubin Yang, 20, of Greenfield is bundled up in Panther colors as he walks on the campus on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2012.

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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

When temperatures drop below zero, mail carrier Lisa Frisco stuffs chemically activated hand warmers into her boots.

It's not in her nature to call off work, she said during a break on her Allegheny West route Tuesday as wind buffeted the North Side neighborhood.

“If I keep moving, it's better,” said Frisco, 50, of Emsworth, who has delivered mail for 18 years. “I try to put my head down and keep going.”

On a day when the mercury failed to climb much above 10 degrees, Frisco remained positive.

“This is the first really brutal day we've had and it's Jan. 22,” she said.

For Frisco and others whose work takes them outside despite the forecast, plunging temperatures usually mean getting creative with clothing. The National Weather Service issued a wind-chill advisory through Wednesday morning, forecasting wind chills of 10 to 20 degrees below zero. It urged people to take care to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

Frisco took dressing in layers to a new level. She said she wore leggings, thermals, work pants, an undershirt, turtleneck, work shirt, sweater, coat, headband, hood, gloves and the boots.

“I'll be fine,” she said. “I've been doing this for a long time.”

Tad Kelley, spokesman for the Postal Service in Pittsburgh, said carriers can use their discretion. “If they think their safety is in jeopardy, they should get out of the cold and notify their supervisor,” Kelley said.

Ralph Slate, chief of the Southmoreland School District security force, directs bus traffic and shepherds students. “It's no picnic,” he said of the cold, adding, “You just bear with it, get done and go home. And look forward to tomorrow.”

For Tom Leech, the secret to working in brutal conditions is a good hat.

“Something to keep your ears warm,” said Leech, 57, of Crafton Heights, supervisor of sewer operations for Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Leech, who has worked outside for 29 years, prefers the cold to a snowy day.

“A couple of cold days aren't going to kill you,” he said. “It is winter.”

Yet extreme cold can be deadly.

Duquesne Light sends its workers out on “dangerously cold days” only for emergencies, spokesman Brian Knavish said. They work indoors or on maintenance projects instead.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl cautioned residents to stay safe.

“Extreme cold can have a serious impact on our residents and their homes,” Ravenstahl said. “I urge all residents to ... stay indoors as much as possible and check on their elderly loved ones and neighbors.”

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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