With extremely cold temperatures and frigid wind chills expected to continue in the coming weeks, the Center for Disease Control is warning people to take necessary precautions to avoid getting hypothermia or frostbite.
Before going outside, make sure you’re sufficiently dressed for the weather. Your fingers, toes, ears, cheeks, chin and nose should all be thoroughly protected, as these are the areas most vulnerable to frostbite.
The CDC reports that the first sign of frostbite is redness or pain in a particular skin area. However, many frostbite victims are often unaware of the severity of their condition due to the frozen tissue feeling numb. Additional signs include skin that feels unusually waxy or firm and skin turning a white or grayish-yellow color.
Hypothermia is described as a condition that often occurs in extremely cold temperatures but can also happen at cool temperatures above 40 degrees if a person is wet from rain or sweat and becomes chilled.
Symptoms of hypothermia for babies include bright, red cold skin and very low energy. Adults who are shivering and show signs of slurred speech, memory loss, drowsiness and fumbling hands would be exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia.
If a person’s temperature dips below 95 degrees, immediately seek medical attention. In the meanwhile, frostbite and hypothermia victims should be taken to a warm area. Remove any wet clothing and warm them under dry layers of blankets and clothing.
Avoid walking on feet or toes with frostbite and do not rub or massage affected areas. Additionally and never attempt to treat it with a heating pad, electric blanket, radiator, fire place or heat lamp instead, place areas affected by frostbite in warm-to-touch water.
Certain people can be more prone to these two winter afflictions such as elderly adults without proper food, clothing or heating and babies sleeping in cold rooms. Those who stay outdoors for long periods of time such as hikers, hunters and homeless individuals also run a higher risk.
Click the following link to view a CDC info-graphic with more information about frostbite and hypothermia identification and prevention.