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Protect Against the Cold

Topics: hypothermia, cold weather tips, frostbite, shoveling,

The GW Medical Faculty Associates: Protect Against the Cold

Weather extremes can create dangerous health problems, exacerbate ongoing health issues, and even result in death. When the outside temperature is extremely low, take these precautions: 

Stay warm indoors.
  If you must venture outdoors, dress in multiple layers of clothing with a non-cotton layer closest to your body.  Avoid leaving any skin exposed to the bitter cold and wind conditions.

Keep dry.
Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.  Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.

Watch for signs of frostbite.
These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. 

Watch for signs of hypothermia.
These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and if the victim is conscious give warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Get medical help as soon as possible. 

Walk carefully
on snowy, icy, walkways. 

If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter.