Here are some cold-weather tips from the local Public Safety Office, the American Red Cross and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Dress Warmly and Stay Dry
- Adults and children should wear:
— A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
— Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
— Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
— Water-resistant coat and boots
— Several layers of loose-fitting clothing
- Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
- Stay dry — wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
- Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snowblower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.
- Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
Avoid Frostbite and 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.
Hypothermia is most likely to take place at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
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.
Signs of frostbite include:
• A lack of feeling in the affected area.
• Skin appearing waxy, cold to the touch or discolored.
What to do:
• Move the person to a warm place.
• Handle the area gently - never rub the affected area.
• Warm by gently rubbing the affected area in warm water - 100 to 105 degrees - until it feels warm.
• Loosly bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings.
• Place dry, sterile gauze between digits if fingers or toes are affected.
• Avoid breaking blisters.
• Do not allow the affected area to re-freeze.
• Seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.
Signs of hypothermia include:
• Shivering, numbness.
• Glassy stares.
• Impaired judgment.
• Loss of consciousness.
What to do:
• Call 911.
• Gently move the person to a warm place.
• Monitor breathing and circulation.
• Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed.
• Remove wet clothing.
• Warm the person's core first - slowly.
Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold.
Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.
- A wind speed of 10 mph with a 10-degree temperature can make it feel like minus-4. With a temperature of zero, it feels like minus-16.
- A wind speed of 20 mph makes the wind chill factors minus-9 and minus-22, respectively.