WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- With the National Weather Service calling for single digit temperatures and wind chills below zero on Friday and Saturday, it's important for Westchester County residents to protect themselves from the bitter cold, experts said.
The American Red Cross warns people to avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold. When you prepare to go outside in severe cold weather, remember the following:
* Most of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
* Dressing in layers helps you retain heat. You can remove layers as needed if you become too warm.
* Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
* Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
* Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.
The following are some important facts about frostbite and hypothermia that can save lives and limbs:
* Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes.
* Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.
* Signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin area and numbness.
If you see signs of frostbite:
* Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
* Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes as this increases the damage.
* Immerse the affected area in warm, not hot, water, or, warm the affected area using body heat.
* Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
* Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
* Seek medical treatment.
Hypothermia is more serious than frostbite. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making hypothermia particularly dangerous.
Signs of hypothermia for adults include:
* shivering, exhaustion
* confusion, fumbling hands
* memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness
Signs of hypothermia for infants include:
* bright red, cold skin
* very low energy
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, the situation is an emergency, get medical attention immediately.
If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:
* Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
* If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
* Warm the center of the body first using an electric blanket, if available. You can also use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
* Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
* After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
* Get medical attention as soon as possible.
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