It’s so cold it hurts.
If you must leave home on days like today or Tuesday, make sure you put on multiple layers of clothes as well as your winter boots, hat, scarf and gloves.
In a short time, single-digit temperatures can damage exposed extremities with frostbite. And the cold can lead to hypothermia, especially for those who are most vulnerable, such as the homeless and elderly.
Across the country forecasts are predicting wind to blow between 15 and 25 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph, plunging wind-chill values to as low as 35-below zero.
Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Infants have low energy and bright-red, cold skin.
Signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels firm or waxy and numbness.
Dr. Alan Gora, emergency department medical director at Mount Carmel West hospital, said simple precautions can keep most of us healthy. Layers. Dry clothes. Covered ears.
If your extremities begin to feel numb or painful, that’s bad news.
“When you start to say ‘I can’t feel my fingers or my ears,’ that’s when you’re starting to literally freeze the external surface,” Gora said.
Most patients with hypothermia or frostbite either lack warm shelter or are elderly, Gora said.
As we get older, our bodies don’t respond as well to the cold. Medical conditions including heart and thyroid problems, decreased muscle mass and some medications increase the risk of hypothermia.
A body temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children can also be prone to trouble if left to their own devices because they’re having fun and don’t pay attention to the warning signs, Gora said. The CDC says that babies sleeping in cold bedrooms also are at particular risk.
“It can get you pretty quick, 30 minutes or less,” said Dr. Paul Gabriel, director of OhioHealth Grant Medical Center’s emergency department. “You need to be in five, six layers when it’s like this.”
Source: State Auto Twitter