Dressing During Cold Weather
It is important to take extreme cold weather temperatures seriously no matter your age. Take extra care that children and elderly are dressed appropriately.
Tips on dressing for protection and comfort during cold weather:
- Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, and warm clothing. Trapped air between layers will help keep you warm.
- Outer layer should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
- Wear a hat. 40% of body heat can be lost from the head.
- Cover mouth to protect lungs from extreme cold.
- Wear mitten rather than gloves. Mittens should be snug at the wrist.
Frostbite is the result of freezing body tissue. Body extremities (toes, fingers, ears, nose, chin) are the most susceptible. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white, grey, or pale appearance of affected areas. According to the Genesee County Health Department, the following steps should be taken when frostbite occurs.
- 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.
- Do not 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. Frostbite should be treated by a medical professional.
- The chart above showing frostbite times is based on the effects on average adults. Use the chart as a starting point and be even more cautious with children, seniors, and persons with compromised health.
- Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to hypothermia.
- Hypothermia can set in over a period of time. To reduce chances of including hypothermia keep thermostats above 69 degrees Fahrenheit, wear layers of warm clothing, eat food for warmth, drink plenty of fluids other than alcohol or caffeine to stay hydrated.
- 20% of cold related deaths occur in the home.
- In the case of hypothermia, always warm the core first. Warming extremities first drives cold blood to the heart.
Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowiness, and apparent exhaustion. In infants, the child may appear bright red, having cold skin, and very low energy. Medical attention is needed immediately. If medical help is not available, begin warming the body slowly.
The Genesee County Health Department recommends that the following steps for slowly warming a person. Even with these steps - get medical help as soon as possible.
- Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing on the victim.
- 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 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.
These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and should be treated by a medical professional.