Cold Weather and Your Health

January 22, 2014 at 9:06 AM | Posted in Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Once again, we are in the middle of a stretch of extremely cold weather. Low temperatures combined with winter winds can carry heat away from your body very quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. Once this happens, serious weather-related health problems can occur. Limiting outdoor exposure would be ideal, but sometimes it’s necessary to brave the elements. The following are examples of frostbite and hypothermia, two cold weather health problems you’ll want to be able to recognize:

Frostbite

Frostbite can permanently damage your body. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced circulation and those that are not properly dressed for the elements. Usually the person with frostbite does not know it because the skin becomes numb. Someone else is likely to point it out to them. Some of the warning signs of frostbite are:

  • Redness or pain in any skin area.
  • A white or grayish-yellow skin area.
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.
  • Numbness.

Hypothermia

Victims of hypothermia are usually the elderly, babies, or people who remain outdoors for long periods of time. The warnings can include:

  • Shivering, exhaustion.
  • Confusion, fumbling hands.
  • Memory loss, slurred speech.
  • Drowsiness.
  • In infants, it can include bright red, cold skin.
  • Severe cases of hypothermia could include loss of consciousness.

If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia has occurred, move the person to a warm area as soon as possible. Warm the center of the body first and keep them dry and wrapped in a warm blanket. Seek medical attention immediately.

During extreme conditions keep an eye on the weather forecasts, and if you must spend time outdoors, dress in warm layers to protect your skin.

Stay safe and warm out there.

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