01/21/13The National Weather Service is advising that the very cold air will continue into early this week. The temperatures will be extremely cold with highs only in the teens and lows in the single digits. Bitterly cold wind chills are likely Monday night and early Tuesday.
When the temperatures drop people, property, and animals can be at risk. The weather can create health hazards like hypothermia and frostbite.
Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat.
Warnings signs of hypothermia:
- bright red, cold skin
- shivering, exhaustion
- confusion, fumbling hands
- memory loss, slurred speech
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, seek medical attention immediately.
If no medical care is available, or not immediately available, begin warming the person:
- Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing.
- Warm the center of the body first. Electric blankets or your own body heat can help.
- Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but not alcoholic beverages.
- Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
The danger of frostbite:
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.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. You should also know the symptoms:
- a white or grayish-yellow skin area
- skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
You should seek medical attention if conditions to the affected area do not improve.
If you must be outside during extremely cold temperatures, dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Cover as much skin as possible to prevent injuries and take frequent breaks indoors to stay warm.