When the temperatures plummet, as they have this week, there are some important safety measures to keep in mind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a comprehensive Winter Weather safety page on their website. Some things to look out for during extremely cold weather include:
Hypothermia: When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it. Specifics about what to do if you suspect hypothermia can be found here.
–When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.
–Low body temperature may make you unable to think clearly or move well.
–You may not know you have hypothermia.
–If your temperature is below 95°, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.
Frostbite: 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. Find specifics, such as warning signs and what to do if you suspect frostbite here
–Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing.
–Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes.
–Seek medical care if you think you have frostbite.
The CDC also has a great Winter Weather FAQ that addresses other issues such as: the wind chill effect, what to do if you are stranded in cold weather, and tips for heating your home safely.
Stay safe and keep warm!