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Winter Weather Safety Tips

January 06, 2014

 Winter Weather Safety Tips
 
 
When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge.
 
Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause other serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. To keep yourself and your family safe, you should know how to prevent cold-related health problems and what to do if a cold-weather health emergency arises. 
 
HYPOTHERMIA
 
Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly.  
 
Hypothermia occurs when the body gets cold and loses heat faster than the body can make it. A body temperature below 95º F can cause health problems such as heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage and more. 
 
It is very important to know the symptoms of hypothermia and get treatment quickly. 
 
Early Warning Signs of Hypothermia:
  • Cold feet and hands. 
  • Puffy or swollen face. 
  • Shivering (in some case the person with hypothermia does not shiver) 
  • Cold, pale, or blue-gray skin. 
  • Slower than normal speech or slurring words.  
Later Signs of Hypothermia:
  • The trunk of the body is cold to the touch. 
  • Muscles become stiff. 
  • Slow heartbeat that is not regular. 
  • Slow, shallow breathing. 
  • Weakness or sleepiness.  
  • Blacking out or losing consciousness. 
Call 911 right away if you think someone has warning signs of hypothermia.
  
FROSTBITE
 
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, particularly when accompanied by a low wind-chill factor or by more brief exposure to very cold temperatures.
 
Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. 
 
Warning Signs of Frostbite:
  • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • numbness
Seek medical care immediately if you detect symptoms of frostbite. 
  
Staying Warm 
 
Tips to stay warm at home:
  • Set your heat 68º F or higher. Close off any room you are not using. Close the vents and shut the doors in these rooms. 
  • To keep warm at home, wear long johns under your clothes. Throw a blanket over your legs, wear socks and slippers. 
  • When you go to sleep, wear long johns under your pajamas and use extra blankets. 
  • Dress warmly on cold days even if you are staying in the house.
 
 When going outside:
  • Dress appropriately for the weather if you have to go out on chilly, cold or damp days.
  • Wear loose layers of clothing. 
  • Wear a hat, scarf and gloves. 
  • Don’t stay out in the cold and wind for a long time.
 
*Information on this page is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
 
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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