Winter Health Hazards: How to handle icy temps

Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 17:28:53-05

As the temperature drops below freezing, we all need to be award of winter health hazards.

What do we need to be on the lookout for?
You need to watch out for cold related illnesses like frostbite and hypothermia.  If it’s below-freezing temperatures, you can develop frostbite in only a minute or two.  This can cause permanent damage or lead to amputations.  And staying outside too long can result in hypothermia.  It happens when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it and you end up with a dangerous low body temperature.

What symptoms should we look out for?
With frostbite, your skin starts off very cold and red. Then becomes numb, hard and pale. Your skin may also feel tingly or painful.  With Hypothermia, your symptoms are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech and drowsiness.  In young children, look for bright red cold skin and very low energy.

What are your prescriptions?

Partha’s RX
1. When the weather is extremely cold, stay inside
The older you are, the harder it is for your body to regulate temperature.  

2. If you go outside, be sure to dress properly
Cover your face with a scarf, wear a hat, gloves and boots.

3. Don’t drink alcohol before going outside
It can affect how your body regulates temperature.

4. Be sure to check on elderly family members
If the heat in their home is too low or doesn’t come on, it can have dangerous consequences for them.

How do you treat these winter hazards?

Mild frostbite can be treated with first-aid measures like rewarming your skin. You can use body heat or warm water.  All other frostbite requires medical attention because of the risk for infection and nerve damage.  Hyperthermia is an emergency and you need to seek medical attention immediately.  Make sure to move the person carefully and cover them in layers of blankets.