As Blizzard Brody rages on, here is some timely advice for staying safe in the cold, wet winter weather!
If you must go out during the storm
- Wear layers of clothing, layers work better than a single, heavy garment.
- In these low temperatures, especially with projected higher winds, make sure all skin is covered…exposed skin can be injured…more on this in a bit.
- Wear boots with decent treads to help avoid slips and falls.
- Stay out side only for short periods of time.
If you must drive during the storm
- Make sure that your tires and wipers are in good condition.
- Make sure you to put your headlights on.
- Take your FULLY CHARGED cell phone.
- Bring some bottled water, a flashlight, a blanket, kitty litter (or sand) and perhaps a change of clothes…not just because you might get into a crash, but you might get stuck somewhere.
- Bring a shovel with you…you may need to clear around your vehicle.
- Call people when you are leaving and when you are arriving
If you will be outside shoveling snow (even snow blowing)
- See numbers 1 – 6 in going outside.
- Work in teams or shifts.
- Stay well hydrated…when properly bundled up and exerting one’s self you can easily deplete your water stores through sweat, wicking, and evaporation.
- Do the work in small increments and shove in layers to avoid back injuries.
- Lift from the knees, not with your back.
- When you start to feel tired…stop and take a break.
- Know the signs of a possible heart attack, many people work too hard and too long taxing their systems and ignore the warning signs.
- Know the signs of a cold-weather related medical issues.
The signs of heart attack
The following information comes right from the American Heart Association’s training materials:
A heart attack occurs where there is some kind of disruption of oxygen supply to the heart muscle. Left untreated a heart attack may lead to damage or death of heart muscle and perhaps to cardiac arrest.
Typical Signs of a Heart Attack:
- Chest Discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. (Note that this discomfort does not always have to be pain).
- Discomfort in Other Areas of the Body: Discomfort also may appear in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, the neck, jaw, or stomach. (This is called referred pain because the pain receptors on the inside of the body work differently than they do on the skin).
- Other Signs: Other signs of heart attack are shortness of breath that is not resolved by resting after exertion (with or without chest discomfort), breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light headedness.
Less Typical Signs in Women, the Elderly, and People with Diabetes
It is important to know that symptoms can vary in heart attacks, especially in these populations. Especially the elderly and people with diabetes, the issue is a decreased sensitivity or ability to detect pain or discomfort. Women also tend to exhibit the following symptoms more than the ones above:
- An ache in the chest, heartburn or indigestion (especially if antacids do not bring relief).
- An uncomfortable feeling in the back, jaw, neck, or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
If you or someone with you develops the symptoms or signs of a heart attack, keep the person calm, call 9-1-1, and if they are not allergic to aspirin give them either 2 baby aspirin or 1 adult aspirin, and keep an eye on that person until help arrives.
There are couple other cold-weather related emergencies to consider:
Frostbite affects parts of the body that are exposed to the cold such as the fingers, toes, nose and ears. Signs of frostbite include:
- The skin over the area is white, waxy or grayish yellow.
- The area is cold and numb.
- The area is hard, and the skin doesn’t move when you push on it.
FROSTBITE IS AN EMERGENCY CONDITION:
- Call 9-1-1
- Remove any wet or tight clothing the person is wearing and pat them down.
- Remove any tight rings or bracelets from the frostbitten part as swelling is likely to occur.
- Do not try to thaw the frozen part if you think there may be a change of the part refreezing before you can get to medical care.
- Do not rub the frostbitten area – the fluids in the skin have frozen into crystals with sharp edges. Rubbing may cause damage. If you need to tough the area do so gently.
Hypothermia is another name for low body temperature. Staying too long in the cold, can lead to hypothermia. The signs of hypothermia include:
- Skin that’s cool to the touch
- Shivering – when the body temperature gets very low SHIVERING STOPS…
- Personality change
- A lack of concern about one’s condition
- Stiff, rigid muscles
- Bluish tint to skin
- Slowed or non-visible breathing
If someone develops a low body temperature you should take the following steps:
- Get them out of the cold
- Call 9-1-1
- Remove wet clothing (if any) and pat them dry. (I would do the same for the clothing anyway since it’s likely cold)
- Put new clothes on the person.
- Cover the body and head BUT NOT THE FACE with blankets, towels or newspapers.
- Keep an eye on this person – as hypothermia can lead to other significant issues, in severe cases during warming, cardiac arrest.
It is also possible for a person who has been out in the cold to have “heat related injuries” because they are so bundled up…watch out especially for dehydration!! Make sure that if you’re working out there that you drink enough water!
Please take care of yourselves and each other today. This weather certainly poses challenges!