After an unseasonably warm start on the East Coast, winter is finally letting us feel its chill. The media is calling this a historic Bomb Cyclone that is affecting the entire East Coast, and we are currently at more risk than ever when it comes to winter health hazards. Hypothermia, heart attacks and frostbite are at the top of the list when it comes to severe weather health risks. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during the Bomb Cyclone, and the worst that winter can throw at you.
What is Hypothermia and what are the symptoms?
Hypothermia is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold weather or immersion in freezing cold water. Hypothermia occurs when the body begins to lose more heat than it can produce. Lengthy exposure uses up your bodies stored energy, lowering your body temperature even more. Perfect recipe for “hypothermia”.
The most basic and effectual treatment for hypothermia is the warming of the core of the body back to a normal internal temperatures. Keeping as eye on the symptoms of hypothermia will be essential in saving yourself and others form health risks. Below are common symptoms:
- Unclear speech or mumbling
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Lack of coordination or confusion
- Drowsiness or very low energy
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Weak pulse
In the case of slow breathing, drop of pulse, or even loss of consciousness, please call 911 immediately as these are very serious signs of hypothermia. If at all possible, try to warm the suffering person and administer CPR while help is on the way.
What is Frostbite and what are the symptoms?
Frostbite most commonly occurs when a part of the body is not properly protected from the winter elements, or very low temperatures. The parts of your body that most at risk for getting frostbite are those that are the farthest away from the center of your body, for example; your hands, feet, nose, ears, and other parts of your face.
Symptoms of frostbite will include:
- Red or sore exposed skin
- Skin becomes pale yellow or white
- Skin becomes tingly, stings or becomes numb
- When the skin warms up again, blisters, even blood-filled ones appear
- Your skin becomes hard or cold to touch
- Skin begins to darken to a blue, purple or black color
During the bomb cyclone, and for the remainder of the winter be sure to properly protect your skin, and avoid staying outside for long periods of time.
How can I prepare my home for the Bomb Cyclone?
In your home, the biggest concerns during a huge storm like the bomb cyclone will likely be power outages, frozen pipes and malfunctioning heating. Make time to get your power and gas appliances inspected, and make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working. If your region is prone to winter storms that take out the power, prepare by buying nonperishable food and water, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. Consider buying a backup generator for your home, especially if you live in a rural region, where utility services might take a while to reach you.
When you go outside, dress for the weather with several layers of light, warm clothing. Be on the lookout for icy patches, which can cause an urgent care visit with one wrong step. Cat litter or sand can help if sprinkled on the sidewalk, or you can melt the ice with rock salt. And if you’re shoveling snow or doing any strenuous labor, make sure to go slowly and take time to warm up in order to prevent heart trouble.
How do I travel during the Bomb Cyclone?
If you must travel, make sure to check the weather ahead of time. It can change quickly, but meteorologists are usually able to predict winter storms within about half a day of their arrival, which will help you know if your travel plans are feasible. Top off the fluids in your car and check the treads on your tires to help lower the risk of a breakdown or wreck. Bring a winter travel pack along, just in case the worst does happen. Your kit should include food and water, road flares, flashlights, a first aid kit, blankets and cat litter or sand to help tires gain traction on snow or ice.
Winter is proving to be an intense one, but with the proper precautions you can avoid hypothermia, frostbite, and all that the bomb cyclone has to bring. Keep your family warm, healthy and comfortable throughout the season! And remember, if the worst does happen, AFC Urgent Care Danbury will see you at any of our 3 urgent care centers, no appointment necessary. Visit us at 2 Main Street, 100 Mill Plain Road, or 76 Newtown Road.