Many of us are waking up this morning to ice, snow and dangerous wind chills. Taking preventative steps is your best defense when dealing with extreme cold weather. Prepare your home and vehicles in advance of weather emergencies. Keep abreast of changing weather and road conditions. Practice safety during these times of bitter cold and you’ll reduce your risk for weather-related health problems or injury.
If you absolutely have to venture outdoors, make sure you are dressed for extreme cold weather conditions.
Learn to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires immediate emergency medical assistance. Check on neighbors, family and friends who may be susceptible to the cold. Learn more:
Hypothermia: In cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced, which can lead to serious health problems. Hypothermia is particularly dangerous because you may not even realize you are in danger. If you know a person’s body temperature is below 95 deg F, get medical attention immediately – this is an emergency situation!
- Adult Symptoms: shivering, exhaustion | confusion, fumbling of hands | memory loss, slurred speech | drowsiness
- Infant Symptoms: bright red, cold skin, low energy.
Frostbite: Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing and can permanently damage the body. In severe cases, frostbite can even lead to amputation. The nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes are most susceptible to frostbite.
At the first signs of skin redness or pain, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. If frostbite is suspected, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Signs indicating symptoms of frostbite:
- White or grayish-yellow skin area.
- Skin feels unusually firm or waxy.
Victims of frostbite may cause further damage because the skin is numb. If you suspect frostbite, there are some things you should not do:
- Unless necessary, don’t walk on feet or toes with frostbite.
- Do not use a fireplace, heat lamp, radiator or stove for warming.
- Do not use a heating pad or electric blanket for warming.
- Do not rub or massage areas with frostbite.
Your safety and the safety of your family is always a priority during extreme weather conditions. Preparedness is key. Take a first aid class and learn how to perform emergency resuscitation (CPR). Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others.
- Hypothermia & Frostbite Graphic Poster – Center for Disease Control
- Frostbite – Center for Disease Control
- Cold Weather Safety Tips for Your Pets – ASPCA
- Winter Storms: Your Pets and Livestock – Iowa State University
- Extreme Cold Prevention Guide – Center for Disease Control
Have a great day & stay safe!
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