It's winter and the temperatures are dropping steadily here in the Town of Hempstead. Freezing weather made more frigid by extreme winds poses specific dangers. Recognizing the dangers of extreme cold spells can save you and your family from suffering pain or more severe injuries.
When the temperature drops below freezing, frostbite or hypothermia can occur from prolonged exposure to the elements or inadequate protection against cold and wind. To protect yourself from the cold, be sure to dress appropriately. Several loose layers of warm clothing topped by a tightly woven, water-resistant outer garment provides the best protection from frigid temperatures. Since body heat is lost from the head and neck area, gloves and scarves are a necessity, and can make a tremendous difference in how you fare during the cold winter months.
Be sure to stay dry. Wet clothing invites frostbite and skin damage. Frostbite can begin long before you become aware of the problem. Look for the early symptoms of frostbite, such as the loss of feeling and color in the affected areas.
Hypothermia is a potentially deadly condition that occurs when exposure to cold air causes the body temperature to drop to sub-normal levels. Symptoms include mental confusion and forgetfulness; difficulty in speaking; very slow, shallow breathing; cold, stiff muscles; puffy face; trembling; sleepiness and difficulty in awakening.
If hypothermia is suspected, seek immediate medical attention. Until help arrives, be sure to use extreme care in handling the victim and gently warm him with blankets, towels and clothing. Remember to cover the victim's head and neck area.
There are certain things you should not do, such as rubbing or massaging the victim to warm him. Do not place him in a hot shower or bathtub, and do not give him food or drink.
Elderly persons are particularly susceptible to cold temperatures and should take extra precautions to protect themselves in cold weather. Remember, wind chill factors must be considered along with the actual temperature when assessing the degree of protection needed against the cold. Even a sunny winter's day can present the danger of frostbite or hypothermia.
I hope you will take the necessary precautions to enjoy a happy, healthy and safe winter season.