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For many of us, getting outside and enjoying the winter weather is part of the seasonal fun. It’s a perfect time to build a snowman, hit the slopes, find a good sledding hill, or strap on the old ice skates. We just want to ensure you stay healthy and safe as you enjoy the winter outdoors.

We’ve compiled a few tips that we hope will help.

Dressing for the outdoors

Dressing for the weather is paramount. A light jacket may seem like it’s sufficient for a few minutes outside, but if you find yourself outside for longer than you planned, you’ll wish you had a warm coat. The New York City Emergency Management [1] office suggests the following:

  • Wear a hat, hood, or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.
  • Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.
  • Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
  • Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it.

Know the hypothermia and frostbite danger signs

Hypothermia and frostbite can quickly become a serious problem and have long-lasting effects on your health. Knowing what to look for and how to treat these conditions can save a life.

Frostbite

According to the Red Cross, signs of frostbite include: “lack of feeling in the affected area; skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue).” [2]

The Red Cross goes on to suggest that if you suspect someone has frostbite:

  1. Move the person to a warm place.
  2. Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area.
  3. Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm.
  4. Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings.
  5. If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated.
  6. Avoid breaking any blisters.
  7. Do not allow the affected area to refreeze.
  8. Seek professional medical care as soon as possible.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a life-threatening emergency that can occur if someone’s body loses heat more quickly than they can create it. When hypothermia occurs, a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees F, causing your heart, organs, and other systems to begin shutting down.

According to the Mayo Clinic [3], signs and symptoms of hypothermia include the following:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bright red, cold skin (in infants)

From all of us here at Horizon Family Medical Group, have a fun and healthy outdoor winter season. Take steps to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

 

Resources

  1. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/em/ready/winter-weather-health-safety.page
  2. https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340104_Frostbite_and_Hypothermia.pdf
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothermia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352682
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