Be careful in the freezing cold

The relatively warm winter we have been experiencing suddenly has been replaced with the reality of the season.

Lighter jackets were the norm during December. Heavy parkas and layers of clothing will be needed during the next several days, when the low temperature will dip to near zero.

Doctors say keeping warm in the bitter cold temperatures involves common sense.

Without proper clothing and protection, a person faces mild frostbite in as little as 15 minutes.

Protecting extremities is important in the bitter cold. Warming packs can be placed inside gloves and boots if a person is expecting to be outside for an extended period of time. But make sure the warming packs aren’t placed directly against the skin.

Layering clothes is important. Thermal layers should be worn close to the skin because it keeps the body’s warmth inside. Outer layers, made from heavy wool or waterproof material, should be worn to keep the cold and moisture out. Hydration in the cold temperatures is important but doctors caution against consuming alcoholic beverages. Alcohol could cause a person to fall, resulting in being stuck outside in the freezing temperatures.

People who work outside on a regular basis know how to dress for the weather and have appropriate clothing to protect them.

Persons who have been outside for an extended period of time without appropriate clothing could face hypothermia. Persons with hypothermia may exhibit an altered mental state and should immediately be taken to an emergency room. People who have been outside in the cold and then continue to have chills and shakes also should be evaluated by a doctor.

If a person has been exposed for a lengthy period to the cold she or he should be warmed immediately. Blankets and electric blankets should be used.

Doctors also advise parents to tell children to come inside if they get wet or if they’re cold. Doctors also say parents should keep an eye on children outdoors because the kids will want to continue playing outside even if they are wet or cold.

Drivers need to have emergency clothing and blankets in the trunk in case the vehicle breaks down. Even with cell phones, help may not quickly arrive if the vehicle breaks down.

And, don’t forget your pets — they get cold, too, and should be sheltered from the weather.

Use common sense during the remainder of the winter.


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