State Health Officials are encouraging everyone to stay indoors as much as possible due to the arctic blast of cold air that has swept over northwest Indiana. State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. says if you have to go outside, please bundle up and wear a water-resistant coat and snow boots.
Health officials also warn that serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold, the most common of which are frostbite and hypothermia. For more information on winter weather safety, including the warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia, visit regionnewsteam-dot-com. [bb]
Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include:
• Shivering, exhaustion
• Confusion, fumbling hands
• Memory loss, slurred speech
If you notice signs of hypothermia, take a person’s temperature. If his/her temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, seek medical attention immediately.
Signs of hypothermia in infants include bright red, cold skin and very low energy. Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults and unlike adults, they cannot make enough body heat by shivering. Adults age 65 and older may make less body heat because of slower metabolism and less physical activity. Hoosiers are encouraged to check on older adult neighbors and relatives.
Babies and older adults are especially vulnerable in these extremely cold temperatures. It’s important for these groups to stay in rooms with adequate heat.
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 in severe cases, can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
Warning signs of frostbite include:
• White or grayish-yellow skin
• Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
At the first signs of redness or pain, get out of the cold. Seek care from a health care professional immediately if you detect symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite.
For individuals who must go outdoors, Health officials recommend wearing the following items:
• A hat or hood (as most heat is lost through the head)
• A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
• Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
• Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
• Water-resistant coat and boots
• Several layers of loose-fitting clothing
Indoors, take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely and that you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
For more information about winter weather safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website by visiting, www.StateHealth.in.gov.