As the seasons change and fall becomes winter, the dropping temperatures can be dangerous to your health. When the temperature falls below normal staying safe and warm can be challenging, and exposure to cold temperatures can have serious, even life-threatening effects on your health. The elderly and babies are at the most risk of illness from extreme cold, but anyone can be affected.
The most common cold-related health problems are hypothermia and frostbite. To keep yourself and your family safe, you should know how to prevent cold-related health problems and what to do if a cold weather health emergency arises.
Hypothermia sets in when more heat is lost than your body can regenerate. It generally occurs in very cold temperatures, but it can happen in cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water. People suffering from hypothermia will experience a gradual loss of mental and physical abilities. Severe hypothermia can lead to death.
Some warning signs of hypothermia include:
If you see any of these signs, take the person's temperature. If it is below 95°, get medical attention immediately. Until medical help arrives you can:
If someone is suffering from hypothermia you should never:
Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, and most often affects your extremities: the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. Often victims of frostbite are unaware of a problem until someone else points it out; this is because the person's frozen tissues are numb.
Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical attention immediately. While you wait for paramedics you should:
When someone is suffering from frostbite you should never:
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