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2018-01-09 / Front Page

Take Safety Precautions In the Biting Weather

By Rosie Cunningham

DELAWARE COUNTY - It hasn’t just been cold in the region this past week, it has been well below freezing.

Heather Warner, public health programs manager for Delaware County Public Health Services discussed what precautions should be taken during the cold winter weather.

“When the weather is extremely cold, try to remain indoors, but if you must go outside, dress properly for the conditions - wear a hat, a scarf or knit mask that covers your mouth, a water resistant winter coat, mittens or gloves, several layers of loose-fitting clothing, and water resistant boots,” she said. “When going outside make sure body parts most often affected by frostbite are covered in warm, dry clothing - nose, ears, toes, cheek, chin and fingers.”

Warner said people most at risk are the elderly and individuals who stay outdoors for long periods of time, those who drink alcohol or use drugs in excess, and babies sleeping in cold bedrooms.

With New Year resolutions in full force, many are looking to stay active and the cold weather could be an obstacle.

“If staying inside is not option for people who work in the cold, it is important to dress appropriately for the cold and to also know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia,” said Warner, who added it is important to recognize the onslaught of hypothermia. “In adults: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness and for infants: bright red, cold skin and very low energy.”

In extreme cold, make outside trips as brief as possible to protect your health and safety.

“However, if you must be outside, take a few special precautions,” said Warner. “Work slowly if you have to do heavy outdoor chores; notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping or skiing; and dress warmly and in layers. A waterproof jacket will help you stay warm and dry if it starts to snow.”

Warner said do not ignore shivering. It is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, the situation is an emergency - get medical attention immediately.

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