By Bernard Freeman
Winter’s cold temperatures bring an extra layer of challenge to being outside. Hypothermia is a deadly condition caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and can occur at temperatures as warm as 40 degrees in the right conditions.
Keep yourself safe with these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Be Weather Aware
Before going out, check the weather conditions and, most importantly, the wind chill. The wind chill — the combination of the temperature, wind and moisture — is how cold it’s going to feel to you outside. Also, be aware of rain or any winter weather that can cause treacherous conditions. Since being wet can amplify the effects of cold, if you’re going out in the rain, wear waterproof gear and boots.
Put on layers. As you warm up with moving around, remove the layers to keep yourself cool. You can add them back if you get chilled. Also wear a hat, scarf and gloves to protect tender extremities.
Watch Your Heart
Cold weather puts more strain on the heart. If you have a heart condition, move a little more slowly than you would in warmer temperatures. And never exert yourself on chores like shoveling snow without clearance from a doctor.
Signs of Hypothermia
Hypothermia is an abnormally low body temperature. Warning signs, the CDC says, are shivering and exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and bright red skin. If a person’s body temperature falls below 95 degrees, it’s a medical emergency. If you can’t seek medical care immediately;
- Get the person into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing.
- Warm the center of the body first with an electric blanket or skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets or clothes.
- Give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if they are conscious.
- Keep the person wrapped in a blanket even if their temperature rises.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.