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Cold Temperatures Cause Widespread School Closings & Delays

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Single digit temperatures can be dangerous for the elderly and children, who are the most susceptible to the cold.

To that end, there were quite a few schools delays today.

Even though hundreds of schools were delayed this morning because of the bitterly cold temperatures, the people that make sure that the kids eventually do get to school were out making sure that the buses were in working order.

"Today's technology is much better than it used to be for diesel machines and they typically fire up, but it's our job to make sure that they do," ABC Transit's Todd O'Shell said.

A delay for the kids meant an earlier start time for people in O'Shell's business who fire up each one of the 100-plus buses and vans at an Etna school bus facility.

"When the temperature gets as low as it is today a common problem is the battery," O'Shell said.

When it's this cold, the buses run for at least 15 minutes to ensure the engine is working and the inside of the bus is warm.

"That's the difficulty with the cold - it's the vehicles and being outside for an extended period of time and that's what's most important for us to run on-time on these days so students aren't waiting," O'Shell said.

That timing is critical considering it can only take 15 minutes for children to suffer the effects of extreme cold.

"It's long enough for a kid to become hypothermic or an elderly person to become hypothermic – yes, in this temperature it is. It's also preventable depending on how they're dressed," Allegheny General Hospital's Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Paul Dr. Porter said.

Dr. Porter said to avoid cotton undershirts and layer with fabrics designed to keep you warm and dry.

"There's a lot of new technology with polypropylene that take moisture away from your body because it's when you get wet and cold that you become more vulnerable," Dr. Porter said.

With more cold weather expected overnight, O'Shell said he'll be keeping in touch with the schools and monitoring the forecast.

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