Tag Archives: hypothermia

Tips to Keep Safe in The Winter Cold

Winter can be a favored season for those who enjoy winter sports or are fond of the snow, but it can also be a perilous time of year, opening the door for many seasonal dangers. Let’s take a look at some precautionary tips to heed in the winter:

  • Bundle up – It is best to wear layers (and pack extra ones) in winter so you can take them off if you’re too warm or add to them if you’re too cold. If you tend to get cold hands or feet easily (or if you suffer from Raynaud’s), you can buy a variety of mini hand warmers to put in your gloves or winter boots.
  • Keep an eye on the weather – If you are planning an outdoors excursion in the winter cold, be sure to check up on the forecast beforehand. If the temperature or wind-chill is too low or there’s a storm brewing, you should plan it for a different date.
  • Don’t let hypothermia creep in – Many people think hypothermia only happens in sub-freezing temperatures, but that is a misconception. This deadly winter danger can strike in temperatures as high as 50’F depending on the other conditions. Read more about hypothermia in our post: Must-Know Facts About Hypothermia.
  • Keep a ‘Winter Kit’ in your car – Be sure to pre-pack a winter emergency kit in the trunk of your car in case you get stranded in the cold. You may want to include: a thermal (foil) blanket, extra coat, mittens and hat, an extra pair of boots as well as a full change of clothes including a couple pairs of socks (in case you have to spend the night somewhere without heat). You should also include some food rations, water, instant heat-packs, a first aid kit, some Advil or Tylenol, a flashlight and a swiss army knife or similar tool.
  • If you have a lung condition, avoid the cold air – The harsh, dry winter air can be rough on the lungs of an asthmatic or COPD sufferer. It can cause the airways to constrict (bronchoconstriction). This can directly contribute to an asthma attack, especially when combined with physical exertion. So, be sure to limit your outside time when the temperature drops too low or wear a scarf around your face if you have a compromised respiratory system!
  • Know the signs of frostbite – Are your extremities so cold they are starting to tingle or hurt, or change color? It is important to know the signs so frostnip doesn’t turn into full-fledged frostbite! Take our Frostbite Quiz to learn more.
  • Pack a car phone charger – It is important to always take your cell phone when driving or walking anywhere alone in winter. If you get stranded in the cold because of a flat tire or wrong turn and your phone has died, a car cell phone charger may save your buns. You can also purchase battery-fueled and solar powered phone chargers.
  • Beware of Icy Accidents – another feared winter danger is an icy slip-and-fall. Falls are major contributors to premature death, especially in the elderly population. It is so easy to hit your head or break an arm when slipping on the ice. Use special gripping tracks on your shoes and boots and always walk slowly and tentatively on icy surfaces with your hands out to brace you.

Keep an eye out for Winter Safety Tips for Children in the future! Thanks for visiting DocChat.

Must-Know Facts About Hypothermia

Whether you are not used to spending time in the cold or you’re a long-time cold warrior, you can still be affected by deadly hypothermia if temperatures drop too low and you spend time outside unprotected. Let’s take a look some key facts about hypothermia so you’ll know just how to avoid this winter danger:

  1. The process of hypothermia begins when the body cannot produce more heat than it loses (usually when the body’s temperature drops below 95’F).
  2. Hypothermia isn’t only a freezing weather danger – it can happen in temperatures as high as 50’F!
  3. Hypothermia often results from a culmination of cold temperatures, wind and wet weather or clothing.
  4. Alcohol can speed up the process of hypothermia as it tricks the body into feeling warm inside. In actuality, alcohol dilates the blood vessels causing the body to lose heat more rapidly.
  5. Dehydration can also contribute to hypothermia as the body is weaker and will become cold quicker while warming up slower.
  6. When body temperature drops too low, it systematically starts shutting down processes (and organs) in an attempt to conserve energy.
  7. Hypothermia is so dangerous because the victim will progressively become more confused, sleepy and immobile and may not even realize what is happening to them until it is too late to act on it.
  8. Symptoms of mild hypothermia include: shivering and confusion. Symptoms may then progress to slow shallow breathing, extreme drowsiness, bluish lips or skin, weak or irregular pulse and eventually bouts of unconsciousness.
  9. If you suspect someone is succumbing to hypothermia DO call for medical help and try to get them to a warm location asap. Lay them down horizontally and replace any wet clothing with dry clothing. Cover the person in blankets, towels or whatever material you can find. Try to get them to drink (non-alcoholic) hot liquids and consume high-energy foods if possible.
  10. If you suspect someone has hypothermia DO NOT: massage their limbs or put them in a hot bath as the blood vessels may dilate too quickly and cause blood pressure to drop fatally low.

Tips to Avoid Hypothermia

  • Dress warmly if you are spending any time outside in cold weather.
  • Always wear a warm hat (as much of your body’s heat escapes through your head).
  • Wear layers (with a wool innermost layer to trap heat but not sweat).
  • Carry a knapsack equipped with: extra clothing such as mittens, under garments and an extra jacket or sweatshirt (in case you get wet or cold), instant hand and foot warmers (you can by them for less than a dollar per pair) and high-energy foods like protein bars.
  • Don’t consume alcohol or caffeine or nicotine when in the cold.
  • Make sure you pack first aid materials in case of a potential emergency.
  • Bring a cell phone so you won’t be stranded for long.

So, there you have it – a hypothermia prevention guide! Thanks for visiting DocChat, be sure to drop back soon for more useful tips.