During extremely cold weather, exposure to the cold outdoors or inadequate heating indoors can lower body temperature to the point where it becomes dangerous. This condition is known as hypothermia, which develops when the body loses heat faster than it produces heat and body temperature falls below 95 degrees. Hypothermia can become a threat to people in our area, whether they are indoors or out.
Older adults and infants are particularly susceptible to this condition. Watch for these warning signs:
- confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, poor coordination, stiff muscles, slow pulse, or breathing
If you spot these symptoms in someone, call emergency medical services at 911 (or the operator if 911 is not available) and take the following steps until help arrives:
- gently cover the person with warm, dry blankets.
- do not allow the person affected to walk.
- do not provide hot liquids or liquor.
- do not apply warm water or massage arms and legs.
You can protect yourself and your family from hypothermia by taking a few precautions:
- wear layers of clothing both indoors and out to maintain body heat.
- if your thermostat is turned below 70 degrees at night, use extra blankets and wear layers of clothing as well as head covering to bed.
- eat regular, well-balanced meals.
- stay in touch with a friend or relative during severely cold weather and check on older neighbors who live alone.
Remember, you do not have to be outside to develop hypothermia. Stay warm this winter, and be safe. Being aware of the hazards will help you to weather the winter.
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