Dr. Colleen Fogarty joined Katrina Irwin on News 8 at Sunrise Thursday to talk about surviving the brutal cold. She says it's important to dress warm and stay dry.
Adults and children should wear:
a hat-consider using the types with earflaps, or use earmuffs over a hat to protect the ears well
a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth-be careful to keep the scarf tucked in so it doesn't get caught on anything. Especially important for children. A Neck "muffler" or "gaiter" might be better. Also a Balaclava is a special hat with facial covering.
sleeves that are snug at the wrist
mittens (they are warmer than gloves)-consider using a thin pair of gloves as a liner inside a larger pair of mittens
water-resistant coat and boots
several layers of loose-fitting clothing
warm socks-wool is best, synthetic fibers like nylon or nylon/wool blends work very well. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs moisture and keeps the body cool. If you must use cotton, try and wear a liner sock of polypropylene or nylon.
Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry-wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body. Do not ignore shivering. It's an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor's advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don't overdo it.
Understand Wind Chill
The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. It is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the speed of the wind increases, it can carry heat away from your body much more quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool.
The Wind Chill Chart below shows the difference between actual air temperature and perceived temperature, and amount of time until frostbite occurs.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing.
Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes.
Seek medical care if you think you have frostbite.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects 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.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin-frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
a white or grayish-yellow skin area
skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
What to Do
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.
If (1) there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and (2) immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:
Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes-this increases the damage.
Immerse the affected area in warm-not hot-water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).
Or, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
Don't use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider. It is a good idea to take a first aid and emergency resuscitation (CPR) course to prepare for cold-weather health problems. Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others.
Taking preventive action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced.
Low body temperature may make you unable to think clearly or move well.
You may not know you have hypothermia.
If your temperature is below 95, the situation is an emergency-get medical attention immediately.
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body's stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won't be able to do anything about it.
Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods-the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
Warnings signs of hypothermia:
confusion, fumbling hands
memory loss, slurred speech
bright red, cold skin
very low energy
What to Do
If you notice any of these signs, take the person's temperature. If it is below 95, the situation is an emergency-get medical attention immediately.
If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:
Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
Warm the center of the body fir