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Posted on: January 29, 2019

Prevent Frostbite and Hypothermia

frost-bite

Mayville, NY- The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning for Chautauqua County beginning Wednesday evening (January 30) through Thursday morning (January 31). Strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures will combine to produce dangerously cold wind chills, projected to range from -25 to -33 degrees Fahrenheit during this period. In addition, heavy lake effect snow and blowing is expected, with a possible accumulation of 8 to 18 inches in the most persistent bands in northern Chautauqua County along Lake Erie. 

“In these wind chills, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 10 minutes or less,” stated Director of Health and Human Services Christine Schuyler. “We urge all residents to stay indoors during this time. If you must be outside, be sure to cover all exposed skin. Check on your family or neighbors and make sure pets have a warm place that is protected from wind.”

Protect yourself when it is extremely cold

When outside, take extra precautions to reduce the risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Dress appropriately; ensure the outer layer of clothing is tightly woven to guard against loss of body heat. When outdoors, do not ignore warning signs. Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat and a signal to quickly return indoors. For those with cardiac problems or high blood pressure, follow your doctor's orders about shoveling or performing any strenuous exercise outside. Healthy adults should always dress appropriately and work slowly when doing heavy outdoor chores.

Hypothermia 

Exposure to extremely cold temperatures can cause hypothermia - abnormally low body temperature - which can affect the brain and make the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening or be able to do anything about it.

Elderly people and infants are most at risk for hypothermia. In adults, warning signs for hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. In infants, signs include skin that is bright red and cold, and having very low energy.

If you notice signs of hypothermia, take the person's temperature. If it is below 95°F (35°C), 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 first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do NOT give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately. Even if the victim appears dead, CPR should be provided. CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available. In some cases, hypothermia victims who appear to be dead can be successfully resuscitated.

Frostbite

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities (such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose), as well as 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. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas.

If there is frostbite and no sign of hypothermia exists and 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, 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.

More information and precautions about cold weather can be found at:

http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/cold/cold_weather_tips.htm.


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